The Swedish traditions abound in our house at this time of year and M’s spectacular gravadlax (lox) is always on our menu for our Christmas Eve Smörgåsbord, for New Years and foodie gifts to give away along the way. This year we made the lox early and took it as an appetizer for our Thanksgiving dinner with friends. It got many compliments and it has to be said that this lox was probably the best ever. All compliments go to the fantastic wild Alaska salmon that we bought at the San Rafael Farmers market from Lance Alldrin. Lance helps us find the perfect pieces of fish for curing, helps ensure that they are perfectly matched in size and assures us that it’s going to be fantastic. He is right!
We select two evenly sized pieces of salmon, each weighing around 3/4 of a pound. We select mid-pieces so that they are a little thicker. They are already frozen, so we can move right on to the curing process. If you buy fresh salmon, always ensure that you freeze it first before making the lox. The freezing ensures that all bacteria are killed. The size of the pieces doesn’t really matter, as long as you ensure that both pieces are equal.
Once you have defrosted your salmon pieces, make sure you check for any fish bones by running your forefinger over the fish. Pull out any bones with a pair of tongs.
Take a handful of white and black peppercorns, mix them together and crush them. Ideally with a pestle and mortar to release their full flavor.
Finely chop the rind of one lemon – preferably organic.
Roughly chop a bunch of dill. We managed to get amazing fresh dill from the Farmers Market. Just perfect.
Coat one piece of the de-boned salmon with the chopped dill.
Then squeeze over the juice from one lemon.
Pour over the crushed peppercorns.
And add the chopped lemon rind on top.
Pour a good few slugs of olive oil over the top. A good quality olive oil really will make a difference. Then lay the other piece of salmon on top.
Press down firmly on the salmon. Place another plate on top to cover and put the salmon in the fridge, wedged between two plates. Put something on top of the plates to weight them down. The salmon will now sit in the fridge for 3 to 4 days (ideally 4). The salmon needs to be turned half way, so that the bottom piece is now on top.
After 4 days, slice the salmon with a fillet or sashimi knife. Cut the fish at an angle, ensuring that you get nice smooth pieces.
Lay the pieces out on a serving tray, or plate. Serve with mustard sauce.
Here’s how to make the sauce:
2tbs wholegrain mustard
4 tbs olive oil
1 tbs red wine vinegar
2tbs finely chopped fresh dill
pinch black pepper.
Mix the ingredients together and serve a little with each slice of lox. Delicious!
As a re-cap of what you need for the lox itself:
2 pieces of salmon (preferably Wild Alaskan). Mid pieces, equal in size.
1/4 cup of black and white peppercorns
bunch of fresh dill