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Gravlax - The Scandinavian Gourmet Salmon Dish

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Gravlax is a diminutive, it means "buried Salmon" in Swedish from "Gravad Lax", yet this solid, prosaic and rather dull name does not come anywhere near to describing this fantastic smooth, suave, elegant appetiser. However gravlax got its name from the old way of preparing it which was salting the salmon, putting it in an old barrel and burying it underground for several days or even several months if it was going to be preserved for the Winter.  Quite when the dill came fashionable no one knows and although I loathe dill on anything else, it is as part of gravlax as cream is to strawberries and cream. I have seen it made myrtle leaves and fennel seeds, I have often wondered what it would be like with wild fennel leaves, but have never got around to trying it.

image: eggwansfoododyssey.com
Gravlax is cured salmon but that is no excuse for not using the freshest salmon, even if you have some salmon that has been languishing at the bottom of the fridge for a few days give it to the cat, which will probably turn their nose up anyway because they have such a strong sense of smell.

It is not rocket science to work out that you use the same weight of sugar as the salmon and double the amount of salt, because at the end of the day you are going for a salty preserved taste. The Americans tend to use double the sugar to salt, but that is not the Scandinavian way, and it destroys the salty taste which is the whole point of the dish.

Ingredients
500g salmon fillet
1kg of coarse salt
500g sugar
2 tablespoons ground white pepper
A large bunch of fresh dill weed
Plastic wrap.

image: loveandoliveoil.com
Method.
Wipe the salmon clean and dry well with paper towels, lay in a glass bowl and cover with your herbs. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, salt and pepper, and cover the salmon with it. Place the plastic wrap directly on top of the fish and weigh it down. You can use anything heavy, bottles of wine old fashioned kitchen weights, but the idea is to extract the water from the salmon and make it go harder. Leave for six or seven days. A great weight is a sealed bag of small change because the small change rolls around the fish and hits all the right spots.

When ready to serve wash and slice very very finely with a very sharp knife and serve with a really good quality wholemeal bread and lashings of butter.

image: hilahcooking.com
Variations
Luxury scrambled eggs are terrific with gravlux added.

Serve it with fresh blinis and mix horseradish with crème fraiche or sour cream

Serve it cold with lashings of mustard sauce

Italian food is simple elegant and fabulous, it makes the most of the freshest ingredients. Italians don't ask how much food is they ask how fresh it is. The concept of a weekly shop is alien to them, their fruit and vegetables are bought every day. The fantastic thing about Italian food is the fact that they have no such thing; Italy was a separate conglomeration of states until 1870.

Each area has its own cuisine and that cuisine has been forged cy Centuries of geographical area and history. For instance the food in the North West bears a closer relationship to mid European food because it was influenced by its neighbour the Austro- Hungarian empire. In the South the flavours of the Mediterranean prevail, the olive oils, the fresh and dried fruit influenced by the Moors, the tomatoes brought from the New World.


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