GUEST POST! This recipe is a childhood favorite that I didn't feel qualified to write about, so I found the most qualified person... my Mom! I hope you love this as much as I do.
I have always loved smoked fish, and especially salmon. As a child, I would go with my dad to the local deli to buy bagels and lox every Saturday morning. I would watch as the deli man ran his long thin knife over the long back of a large salmon fillet creating perfect translucent orange ribbons that he would lay on a sheet of waxed paper. Time passed and I moved from the east coast to the west where the deli of my childhood couldn't be found, whether because of the location or change due to time I don’t know. Then, in 1987 we discovered Gustave Anders, a wonderful Swedish restaurant in Orange County, CA, where Gustave ran the front of the house and Anders was the chef. They produced a menu of Swedish specialties such as “crev tor”, boiled seasonal crayfish served in a mound to be eaten with fingers, six different preparations of herring, Swedish meatballs of course, and the most delicious gravadlax, salmon that was marinated rather than smoked and served with a honey mustard dill sauce.
Unfortunately, Gustave and Anders retired in the ’90’s and closed the restaurant. Before leaving for Sweden, they thoughtfully published some of their favorite recipes and sent them to long time patrons. Here is their gravadlax recipe with my slight modification indicated.
- 2 Fresh Salmon Fillets (1-1.5 LBS Total), skin attached, or one large fillet that can be cut in half crosswise
- 1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
- 1/2 Cup Cracked Black Peppercorns (I use a coffee grinder dedicated to spices to crack the peppercorns)
- 1/2 Cup Plus 3 Tablespoons Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Brandy
- 1 Bunch Fresh Dill
Dijon Mustard Sauce Ingredients
- 1/3 Cup Dijon Mustard
- ½ to 1 Tablespoon Honey (Depending on preference)
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Bunch Fresh Dill
- 3 Tablespoons Capers
- 1 Tomato, Thinly Sliced
- ½ Red Onion, Thinly Sliced
- Waxed Paper
- 1 or 2 Large Ziploc Bags
- 1 Sheet Pan or Large Pyrex Dish
- 1 Plate
- 3 Cans of Food (These are to weigh down the fish while it is curing)
- Long Sharp Knife
To make the gravadlax:
Mix the salt, pepper and sugar together well. You will only need about 1/2 of the mixture for one recipe; store the remainder in a container for future use.
Pat Salmon dry with a paper towel and lay them skin down on 2 sheets of waxed paper. Rub generous quantities of the spice mixture into the flesh of both fillets. Lay 1/3 of a bunch of dill on one of the salmon fillets and place the other fillet on top of the first one like a sandwich, spiced side to the dill.
Place the fillet sandwich in a Ziploc bag.
Reaching into the bag, rub a generous quantity of the spice mixture into the skin of the top fillet. Place 1/3 of a dill bunch on the skin.
Carefully flip the bag over so that the skin of the second fillet is on top. Repeat the spice and dill routine.
Pour the brandy into the bag and seal the bag removing as much air as possible.
Place the bag on the pan, put the plate on top of the bag and the weights on the plate.
Transfer to the refrigerator.
The salmon should be turned every 12 hours for 3-5 days.
First turn: flip the bag over and replace the plate and weight.
Second turn: carefully open the bag, turn the fillets skin to skin (with dill in between them) without removing them from the bag. Reseal the bag and refrigerate with plate and weight on top.
Third turn: flip the bag over and replace the plate and weight.
Fourth turn: carefully open the bag, turn the fillets flesh to flesh (with dill in between them) without removing them from the bag. Reseal the bag and refrigerate with plate and weight on top.
Repeat until ready. I have found that I like the 5 day preparation.
When done, remove a fillet from the bag, lay it on waxed paper and scrape off the spices and dill. Slice the gravadlax from the tail end to the head end by placing the knife almost parallel to the fillet and dragging it down the length.
Freeze for Later: Gravadlax may be frozen, either sliced or whole. Lay it on waxed paper and fold the paper tightly around the fish. Then put in plastic bag or plastic wrap eliminating air.
To Make the Sauce:
Thin the mustard a bit with the oil. Mix in the honey to taste. Chop the dill fronds finely and mix well into the mixture. Reserve some chopped dill for the garnish. Taste and adjust as desired.
Lay out the gravadlax slices artistically on a platter. Sprinkle with the reserved chopped dill. Mound some capers artistically around the platter. Offer the sliced tomatoes and onion on another platter. Put the honey mustard dill sauce in a small bowl with a small ladle. Enjoy with or without bagels.