Thursday, January 8, 2015

Gravalax - home cured salmon

A big welcome to all me readers, faithfuls and first-timers for a wonderfully happy and healthy 2015 with fabulous food and gorgeous gardens.  I think that probably a good way to start it off is with my horoscope for the year that a friend sent on to me  - she knows me very well!

Gemini 2015:  "You've tried being normal, that didn't work - now just be yourself"




Home made gravalax is a dish that never fails to impress, and yet it is so simple to make, wonderfully versatile and simply delicious to eat.  Coming from the Nordic culture of food preservation it is traditionally served on rye bread with a mustard and dill sauce.


It was our annual street party last night that involves taking a chair, a bottle of something cold and a plate of food to share,  so I decided on some blinis - little leavened pikelets topped with cured salmon and sour cream.

How to make Gravalax?
500g thick cut, fresh salmon with the skin on - you can use fresh trout too.
1/4 cup of vodka
1 bunch of dill or fennel fronds roughly cut
1/3 cup sea salt
1/3 cup brown sugar


1. Mix the curing ingredients together in a non-reactive dish
2. Lay the salmon in, skin side up
3. Cover in cling film and weight it down with something heavy on top.  Leave overnight.
4. In the morning, turn the fish over and return to fridge for another few hours.  Don't leave longer than 24 hours.
5. When you are ready to use it, scrape the fish clean and dab with paper towel to remove any excess curing stuff.  DO NOT WASH!
6. Cut into thin slices down towards the skin.  Left whole will keep for up to a week in the fridge.
NOTE:  You may need to remove any bones with a pair of tweezers - I find this easier to do after it has been cured.  After curing the salmon will take on a richer colour, firmer texture and more translucent quality - as you can see!
TOP TIP:  For an even more sensational colour - add some grated fresh beetroot to the curing mix.


How to Make Blinis?
1/2 cup buckwheat flour - can use wholemeal or rye
1/2 cup strong white flour
1 egg
About one cup of milk - can be buttermilk or mixture of milk and yoghurt
Salt to taste
1 tsp yeast

1.  Mix everything together and leave to rise for 1-2 hours in a warm place - should be a spongy batter
2.  Heat non-stick pan and add a little butter
3.  Cook in small batches, using small spoonfuls, until lightly golden on both sides.
NOTE:  Blinis are a traditional Russian dish, originally served with caviar and sour cream.

Assemble topped with little dollops of sour cream mixed with capers and chopped dill.  I actually used pickled nasturtium seeds - they have wonderfully pungent taste - a bit like horseradish, which is the traditional topping for salmon blinis but mostly unavailable where I live.  Anyway, they tasted sensational and were gone in about five minutes!


NOTE:  Curing salmon this way gives you something very versatile, economical and yummy to keep in your fridge to have on sandwiches or turn into a sophisticated salad - my favourite being with warm potatoes, chopped spring onions, hard boiled eggs and a salad dressing laced with mustard and pickled nasturtium seeds - oh, I forgot, a sprinkle of dill.
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