Serves: Makes one 3 to 4 pound fillet of gravlax; once sliced, it can be portioned into three packages of six appetizer-sized servings each.
- ½ cup coarse sea salt or kosher salt
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 salmon fillet (3 to 4 pounds), skin on and scaled, pin bones removed
- 10 sprigs dill, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup gin
Procedures:One of the most delicate and least embellished salmon preparations is gravlax, a Scandinavian specialty in which the fish is cured by means of a salt and sugar rub. No cooking is involved. We like to think of this paper-thin sliced raw fish as one step beyond Japanese sashimi. Typically, gravlax is seasoned with fresh dill, a brandy such as Cognac, and spruce sprigs. Not everyone has a spruce tree growing in the yard, so we’ve decided to re-create that woodsy flavor by including gin in our recipe. The gin’s mild juniper berry flavor is a lovely accent with the dill.
Select a 2-inch-deep glass or ceramic baking dish that fits the length of the fish as closely as possible. In a small bowl, combine the salt and sugar and spread half of this mixture on the bottom of the baking dish. Lay the salmon, skin side down, in the dish. Gently rub the remaining salt mixture over the flesh side of the fillet. Spread the dill over the fillet. Slowly drizzle the gin over the fish, being careful not to rinse off the salt cure.
Place a large sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the fish. Select a slightly smaller baking dish, or some other large, flat object, to rest on top of the fish. Place something that weighs several pounds in the top of the dish. I use full beer bottles set on their sides.
Place the weighted salmon in the refrigerator for at least 2 days or up to 5 days. Turn the salmon over once a day, being sure to weight the salmon after each turn.
Once cured, skin the fillet, and then cut the fillet into ¼-inch-thick crosswise slices. Arrange on a plate, wooden board, or in packages ready for gift giving. Cover tightly and refrigerate.
Storing: Refrigerate, covered, for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months. (If freezing, wrap the gravlax completely in plastic wrap and then in a double layer of aluminum foil.)