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Gator    619

Hope you enjoy this as much I do.

Note: the photos I included are from the time I made it with lime slices in between the filets. As noted below in "Options" I found it was too citrusy for me and took away from the delicate flavor of the fish. But I wanted to include some photos and these were the only pics I had. 

 

Gravlax

Ingredients:

800 gram skin on filet of salmon, thin strip along the belly removed (use it for another recipe such as frying it and adding to an omelet).

1 1/2 tablespoons of finely ground sea salt is best, but regular table salt is also ok (do not use course salt like Kosher salt as it won’t dissolve proportionately with the sugar and the fish will likely be under cured)

3 tablespoons of white sugar 

Also needed:

Plastic cling wrap, rimmed plate or shallow baking dish large enough to hold the filet (when cut in half crossways) and some paper towels.

A note on food safety: Both wild caught and farm raised salmon may contain parasites / tape worms; although it’s less likely with farm raised. If the filet is fresh and never been frozen, then it’s best to freeze it first to kill parasites. The USDA recommends 7 days in the freezer for consumers as most home (non- commercial) freezers don’t get cold enough (-4C). Also be sure to thoroughly clean all surfaces where raw fish come into contact to - both before and after - as well as to thoroughly wash your hands both before and immediately after handling any raw fish.

Directions: 

Mix the salt and sugar together in a small bowel and set aside.

Check the filet for pin bones. These are the small bones that run down the center of the filet (projecting out towards the skin). If they are present then remove them - using tweezers or pliers is usually the easiest method. Rinse and pat the filets dry with paper towels. Set aside on a cutting board. If already not done so by your fish monger, then cut away the thin strip of flesh along the belly. Cut the filet in half (crossways) into two equal pieces - try to get it as close to exact as possible).

Put a long strip of plastic wrap (about 5-6 times the length of the filet) on the plate / dish you’re going to use. Don’t skip this step or you’ll only make a big mess later! Put one of the filets onto the plate - centered. Gently pour the salt/sugar mixture down the center of the filet - put a little more of it towards the thicker end and allow it to taper off a bit as you pour it. Don’t worry about trying to spread it out - it’s not necessary. Place the other filet on top - thick to thin if applicable - to make a salmon “sandwich”.

As tightly as you can, wrap the filets in the cling wrap you put under them. Wrap them in at least two more layers - both lengthwise and around it. Make sure the filets are fully touching each other with no airspace. It’s easiest if you lay out a big sheet of cling wrap and roll up the filets.

No matter how tightly you wrapped them they’re probably going to leak a little - so put the filets onto a rimmed plate or shallow baking dish/cake pan and place it into your refrigerator. The bottom or lower shelf is usually best. Do not put it into the crisper. 

You do not need to place a weight on top of them (like most recipes tell you to do), but you do need to turn them over periodically in order to keep them basted. I usually turn them over in the morning and evening. 

Now come the hard part - waiting 48 hours until it’s ready and remembering to turn it over about every 12 hours. Set a timer on your phone or calendar reminders if you’re absent minded like me!

Unlike traditional recipes the curing time does not need to be exact. The filets do need a minimum of 36 hours to cure and can go for as long as 72 hours before you’d notice any significant change in taste or texture. 48 hours seems to be the best.

After 48 or so hours remove the filets from the fridge, unwrap, and rinse under cold running water. Pat them dry with some paper towels and place onto a cutting board. Cutting thin slices on the bias (diagonally across the grain) will give you the largest pieces. You can either carefully remove the skin first or simply cut down to and then away from the skin.

Options:

Dill - you can add some fresh chopped dill (about a small handful) before curing. Only pour about half the salt/ sugar mixture onto the bottom filet, add the dill and then pour on the rest of the salt/sugar mix. (Note: I tried it once and felt it took away from the flavor of the salmon, but my mom loved it - so depends on how well you like dill - I prefer to make a dill cream sauce and serve it as an accompaniment to the lox).

Black / white a peppercorns - sprinkle a few around after you’ve poured the salt/sugar mix onto the bottom fillet; about 10-15 of them is enough. You can do the same with fresh ground pepper too - just a few turns of the grinder - too much will overpower the taste of the fish.

Ground or whole juniper berries - same as above - just be careful as their flavor can be strong. 

Spirits - a shot of good quality gin, vodka (like lemon flavored) or aquavit - recommended to add before the salt/sugar mix; most onto the bottom filet and the rest spread onto the top filet just before placing on top of the bottom one.

Citrus fruit - limes make a very tasty addition. Best to use the zest from half a lime. Just add it to the salt/sugar mix and stir to incorporate it. If you don’t have a zester then you can use slices: slice very thin and you must use a barrier between the fruit and the fish, otherwise the acid in the citrus fruit will “burn” the flesh of the salmon - it leaves unsightly white marks/blotches. You can use cheesecloth - put half the salt/sugar mix onto the bottom fillet, a double layer of cheesecloth (cut to fit - slightly smaller then the filets), the thinly sliced pieces of lime (3 center slices is enough - I’ve tried it with more and too much is not good, too “citrusy” and acidic), another double layer of cheesecloth, rest of the salt sugar mix, continue with rest of above instructions. You can also use dill as a barrier - same steps as for using cheesecloth, but make sure the lime slices will not come into contact with the fish. Update - put the lime slices on the skin side, 2 on the bottom and 2 on the top. As the filets baste the lime flavor will work it’s way in. Or just buy a damn zester! Lol

For a more smokey flavor - add about a half to full tsp of liquid smoke rubbed onto the filets before adding the salt/sugar mix or use smoked salt; just make sure it’s finely ground.

 

 

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