Updated: Aug 27
Gravadlax is always impressive when its served, the purple red colour of the outside of the fish looks great against the salmon orange inside when you slice it, and who couldn’t be wowed by a whole fillet of salmon hitting the table? Goes really well with any meal as a starter, as part of a salad or just on its own. Unless my Mother is coming, then no one else gets any.
I called this Experimenters Gravadlax as you can get quite creative with the optionals, and don’t limit yourself to my list!
1 x Salmon Side, good quality fresh and sustainable.
1 large fresh beetroot
100g coarse sea salt.
50g brown sugar
½ a Jar (approx. 2 tablespoons) good strong horseradish, such as Colmans. Not a vinegary one!
1 packet fresh dill OR 1 packet frozen dill (see note)
1 ½ good expresso cups full of Vodka or Gin or even Whisky,
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lime
1. First, freeze the salmon. It sounds strange to buy a salmon fillet and freeze it but this is a cured fish recipe. Freezing acts as a failsafe to kill anything on or in the fish (pops the cells) meaning its totally safe. It’s a bit of a belt-and-braces measure, but better safe than sorry!
2. Defrost, check for bones down the centre and remove with tweezers if you find any, dry with paper towel and place the salmon in a large ziplock type freezer bag or a large vac packing bag. I use the vac packing rolls so I can make any length bag I want.
3. Peel the beetroot and place in a blender or smoothie maker, along with the horseradish, half the dill (you can vary to taste) gin or vodka and blitz until you have a smooth paste.
4. Add the salt & sugar to the paste and mix in. You just want it mixed; you don’t need it to dissolve. You can also add in your optional items here if you wish.
5. Spoon the mix on top of the fish,
putting more on the thick end and less on the tail. You want to cover the whole fish. A palette knife helps here or even a spatula but not a pointed knife as you don’t want to pierce the bag!
6. Push the air out if using a freezer bag, or soft / wet vac pack it if you have the machine. Vac packing it is good as it pushes the mix onto the fish. If you are using the bag method place the fish in its bag on a board and then put another board or even a plate on top, so the weight pushes the mix into the fish. Place flat in the fridge for 24 hours.
7. Once the time has elapsed, open the bag and take out your now purple fish and rinse thoroughly under a cold tap. You need to get the mix off, after that the more you rinse the milder, less salty and paler your Gravadlax will become.
8. Dry with paper towel and place on a board or platter, then scatter over with dill, black pepper, and any optionals you chose such as lemon zest.
9. To serve slice diagonally (you have to take a thicker bit off first, that’s the chefs perks) from the thick end. Cut down to the skin and then flick the knife out to detach. Enjoy!
Note: Fresh Dill has a totally different taste to dried, but doesn't keep long. Ideally, just grow one, but if you are on shop bought like most of us and want to keep some so its handy, simply buy it fresh and freeze immediately in the pack it came in. Defrost naturally and use. It will be a little wetter but the taste and colour will be exactly right.