Rich, salty, luscious salmon. In all its forms, it is one of my favorite fish to cook or, in this case, not cook. I love cured salmon but rarely can I bring myself to spend the incredibly high price to buy it in Hawaii. During a recent ravioli making night with my Swedish friend Nina, we got to talking about how we should make our own gravlax. This peaked my interest and I got to digging for the perfect recipe. After many recipes that all looked like they would just end up tasting of salty fish and not much else, I decided to add a few ingredients of my own. In addition to the traditional salt, sugar, and dill, I added caraway seeds, horseradish, and black peppercorns. Then I wanted to make it a bit of a statement so I decided to add some beets to change up the look a bit. In the end, this recipe produces salmon that has the same texture and basic flavor of the original with a slight bite from the pepper and horseradish. The caraway and beets add an earthy layer that balances the fatty richness of the fish.
A few tips:
- Make sure to wash your hands and tool frequently when working with the beets to avoid staining everything a rather lovely shade of pink.
- Don’t bother peeling the beet. You don’t end up eating the curing mixture so the skins aren’t going to bother you.
- When removing the pin bones from the salmon, pull in the direction they grow in to avoid tearing the fish.
- Most recipes use a bed of fresh dill in place of the dried that I used. You can do the same but I think the flavor is much more concentrated when you use dried directly in the curing mixture.
Beet Cured Gravlax
- 1 lb salmon fillet, skin on
- 1 cup red beet, roughly chopped
- ½ cup coarse salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 2 tbsp horseradish
- 1 tbsp caraway seed
- 2 tbsp dried dill
- Check salmon for pin bones and remove them; pat dry
- In a food processor, combine all remaining ingredients; pulse until a coarse paste forms
- Line a glass dish with plastic wrap; spoon some of the beet mixture into the dish; lay salmon on top and cover with remaining beet mixture
- Cover with plastic wrap and remove as much air as possible; place another dish on top of the salmon and add weight
- Refrigerate 3 days; wipe off beet mixture; store in refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week