Monday, March 26, 2007

Smoked Salmon “Gravlox” Part 1 – From Cradle to Grave

Gravlox, or Gravlax, as it is also spelled, has a very interesting translation. It was originally made by Scandinavian fishermen who coated the salmon with a salt and sugar mixture and buried it in the sand to "cure." So the term Gravlax comes from the word “grav” which means grave, and the word “lax” which means salmon. So there you go, with trivia like that, you’ll kill at that next dinner party!

Now, what I’m trying to do in this demo is to use the classic Gravlox technique, but use a smoked salt in the curing mix to achieve something that will be very close to the store-bought, and VERY expensive, smoked salmon. Lots of people try to smoke salmon at home, but they are using a high-temp smoker which basically just produces cooked salmon with a smoked favor. Now there’s nothing wrong with “hot-smoked” salmon, but what I’m after is that soft, buttery texture of the “cold-smoked” salmon that is sold commercially. I think this just might work! Anyway, check out part 2 and in a few days I’ll show you the results. I will be selling my smoked paprika salt on the site soon, but until then you can use the ingredients I’ve listed below.

Safety Note: If you are worried about eating “raw” salmon, relax. This is technically raw, but “cooks” as it cures in the salt and sugar mixture. Also, you bought top-quality salmon, of course. To be really safe, you can buy frozen wild salmon and thaw that; the freezing process kills any chance of dangerous parasites, etc. By the way, that’s why many Sushi Bars actually use pre-frozen fish.

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh salmon, skin on
3 tbl sugar
3 tbl kosher salt (yes, regular salt will work)
1 tbl smoked paprika (or if you like spicy try Chipotle)
1 tbl black pepper
cheese cloth

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi there Chef John!

Allow me to start by saying that I really enjoy your site so please keep up the good work of educating the masses ;)

Having said that, I have to ask where you get the information as to the seasoning to make Gravlax since it is not entirelly accurate to what we actually use in Sweden.

First of all the use of paprika or chipotle is not something we would use, more like a choice of either black, white or even rose pepper is used depending on taste and most importantly you are lacking the dill!!! You cant make gravlax without dill...well you can...but then its not really gravlax but rather marinated salmon as far as I can see :p

Just a little heads up! ^_^

Chef John said...

Thanks, but I wasn't trying to make authentic gravlax - this is my version using the technique. This is how new recipes emerge. I have made the recipe you speak of many times, and enjoy it, but I like to create new tastes.