I have to credit Ina Garten of the Food Network for the basic recipe below for one of nature’s miracles, gravlax. I learned the technique by watching her do it a few years ago. I am republishing an ancient post here for two reasons. This was one of my earliest, way before anyone ever posted a comment on my blog. Also, these two items, in combination, are heavenly.
What does gravlax taste like. Somewhat like smoked salmon, although it is not smoked. The way I make it it tastes less salty than smoked salmon. If you use really fresh salmon there will be no fishy taste.
As for the beets, I realize not everyone likes them. I would be perfectly happy to serve the salmon on very thin blanched slices of potato. Suit yourself.
1 pound fresh salmon, center cut
1 large bunch of dill, plus 1/4 cup chopped dill for serving
1/8 cup kosher salt
1/8 cup sugar
1 tablespoon white or black peppercorns, crushed
1 1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds
splash of sake or other spirit
Cut the salmon in half crosswise and place half the fish skin side down in a deep dish. Wash and shake dry the dill and place it on the fish. Combine the salt, sugar, crushed peppercorns, and fennel seeds in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly over the piece of fish. Place the other half of salmon over the dill, skin side up. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.Place a smaller pan on top of the foil and weight it with some heavy cans. Refrigerate the salmon for at least 2 and up to 3 days, turning it every 12 hours and basting it with the liquid that collects.Lay each piece of salmon flat on a cutting board, remove the bunch of dill, and sprinkle the top with chopped dill. With a long thin slicing knife, slice the salmon in long thin slices as you would for smoked salmon. Make sure your knife is very, very sharp.Serve on pumpernickel bread or toast. You can also top it with a fried egg that has been allowed to come to room temperature. Or try the beet carpaccio below.
1 large beet, steamed, cooled and peeled
Slice the beet very thin on a mandoline.
Arrange the slices on 2 plates.
Drizzle with the sauce below, top with gravlax slices and another drizzle of sauce.
Garnish with some fresh dill if you have it.
Dressing for beets and gravlax
Chinese black vinegar
If you do not have black vinegar add a bit more sherry vinegar. Be careful not to let vinegar totally highjack the sauce. Whisk the ingredients together and taste. It may take a few minutes of adding small amounts of whatever you think necessary. Remember the rule of thumb: you should be able to detect the presence of every ingredient, however, slightly.