Salmon cured in salt, sugar, citrus zest and spices— my idea of a very good idea. Maybe it was the name, gravlax, or the idea of safely eating raw fish but I assumed making gravlax was best left to the professionals and my job was to make a tangy sauce and slice the rye bread. I couldn't have been more wrong. Making gravlax is ridiculously easy, simple and rewarding— freshly cured gravlax is seriously good.
The trick to gravlax is good quality, fresh salmon and a really sharp knife (I used my large chef's knife) to ensure your slices are paper-thin. I cured it for about 2 1/2 days and let it sit in the fridge for 3 - 4 hours, uncovered, before I sliced it. Garnish with a handful of dill and capers and I swear you'll be reaching for another salmon fillet to start the curing process all over again...it's that good.
Grapefruit & Juniper Gravlax
1 1/2 pound salmon filet, skin-on
1/2 cup kosher sea salt
1/3 cup raw sugar
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one grapefruit
1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed
2 tablespoons black peppercorns, cracked
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 medium bunch of fennel fronds, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
3 tablespoons salt cured capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
Place all the ingredients, except the salmon, fennel fronds, dill and capers, in a bowl and mix to thoroughly combine. Cut a piece of plastic wrap twice as long as the filet and place it, unfolded, on a flat surface. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the salt mixture and 1/3 of the fennel fronds on the plastic wrap and lay the salmon, skin side down, on top of salt/fennel mixture. Sprinkle the remainder of the salt and chopped fennel on top of the filet and tightly wrap the salmon in the plastic wrap (you may need additional pieces of plastic wrap). Carefully pierce the plastic wrap (taking care to not pierce the skin) and place on a wire rack set over a sheet tray (skin side down). Place another sheet tray on top of the salmon and weigh it down with large cans of tomatoes/beans/whatever you have in your cupboard. Refrigerate, turning once a day, until the salmon is firm, 2 to 3 days. Rinse the excess salt mixture off the salmon under cold water, pat it dry and thinly slice. Garnish with dill and capers and serve on sliced rye bread. The cured salmon will keep, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for about two weeks.