Homemade Gravlax Revisited

After much ado, Umami Girl does justice to house-cured gravlax.

homemade gravlaxEarlier this year I wrote about our misadventures in homemade gravlax, which had all the potential in the world until a little tragic flaw called hubris made its way into the kitchen. A regular Salmon Hood, I vowed to avenge the wasted fish and discover the perfect curing method for wild salmon. Folks, I think I’ve done it.

Along with Martha’s parmesan straws and Marcella Hazan’s bagna cauda with bitter vegetables, we snacked on house-cured gravlax while the Thanksgiving turkey roasted. Having come to my senses in the months since February (as regards cured salmon, at any rate), I consulted The Culinary Institute of America’s Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen. We prefer wild salmon to farmed salmon for many reasons. Because it is substantially leaner than farmed salmon, I used a relatively high ratio of sugar to salt and cured the salmon for a fairly short time to yield a soft and not overly dense result. This is the recipe I’ll wield forevermore. How’s that for vigilante justice?

Homemade Gravlax

Adapted from The Culinary Institute of America

serves 10 as an hors d’oeuvre

1 whole fillet of Wild Alaskan Salmon, skin on (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)*
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
3 ounces kosher salt
3 ounces sugar
1 Tablespoon black peppercorns, cracked
1 bunch fresh dill

* Salmon should have been previously flash-frozen, as most is at this time of year. This ensures that any parasites have been killed and is the same process used for sushi-grade fish. Have the fishmonger remove any pin-bones from the fillet.

1. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the salmon, skin side down, on the parchment. Brush evenly with the lemon juice.

2. Combine the salt, sugar and cracked pepper in a medium bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the salmon, covering completely. The layer of curing mixture should be a little thicker where the salmon is thicker and thinner where the fillet thins out toward the tail. Cover evenly with the dill.

3. Cover the salmon with another layer of parchment and then another sheet pan. Weight the top sheet pan with two 16-ounce cans. Refrigerate for 40-48 hours.

4. Scrape the dill and curing mixture from the salmon. Rinse well and pat dry. Slice very thinly to serve. The salmon can be refrigerated for up to 5 days before serving.