Jan 19, 2010

Bury your Salmon like the Vikings... The Famous Gravlax!

I recently ate a gravlax sandwich at one of the Smorgas Chef Restaurant locations in Stone Street (Wall Street Manhattan), specialized in Scandinavian cuisine. That reminded me of a demo at The French Culinary Institute during the first month of the curriculum regarding a session on preserved food. The instructor chef prepared an Asian-style gravlax that I still remembered enjoying very much.
Basically, gravlax making is a two-step procedure. First step is curing the salmon with a salt-sugar mixture for from at least 6 hours up to 2 or 3 days depending on the recipe. The second step is bringing seasoning and flavors to the salmon.

The word grav-lax means bury (-grav) salmon (-lax). More info here.

After browsing the numerous tiny notebooks I wrote during my FCI experience, I finally got the exact recipe.

For a 1,8 kg salmon fillet

1 mix-step

    Brown sugar 170 gr

    White sugar 170 gr

    Kosher salt 170 gr

    Fresh ground pepper 1/2 tbs

    Kaffir lime leaves

Arrange the fillet on plastic wrap placed on top of aluminium foil. Rub the salt and sugar mixture evently all over the salmon. Enclose the fillet tighly in plastic wrap then in foil. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

2nd mix step

    Grated ginger 30 gr

    Minced cilantro 4 tbs

    Sake 55 gr

    Sesame oil 1 tbs

    Soy sauce 55 gr

After the curing period, unwrap the salmon (the salt-sugar mixture will have melted and being absorbed). If there is any salt or liquid left, rinse under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. Rub and pour the 2nd mixture evenly to cover the entire top surface of the fillet. Rewrap the salmon in the plastic wrap and foil. Place on a tray in the refrigerator and top with another tray, weighed down with a 2-kilogram weigh.
Refrigerate at least 2 hours more, or overnight.

I would suggest to serve with some shiso leaves and minced dried seaweeds (nori in Japanese, kim in Korean) to accentuate the Asian influence.

An alternative recipe for asian gravlax can be found on this blog.

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