Friday, June 15, 2018

Beet-Cured Salmon Gravlax – Easier and Slower Than You Think

Even though I only do it once every few years or so, making salmon gravlax at home is a fun weekend project, and with very little effort, you can produce some very impressive results. I’ve always done this with the traditional fresh dill sprigs, but after enjoying a beet-stained version at Plaj, I decided to try my hand. And, also stain my hand.

If you’re just doing a small tail piece like I did, these times and measurements should get you close to what you see here, but if you're feeling adventurous, and want to do something larger, then you may have to do some research for techniques that work better when doing a thicker piece of fish.

Those slightly more complicated methods involve turning, draining, and basting, to account for a longer curing time. So what I’m trying to say is, you can avoid all that by just doing a smaller piece, which, unless you’re hosting a large party, should be plenty. Speaking of large parties, and the litigious people that sometime attend them, please be sure to get your salmon from a reliable source.

I think a brick works great for a press, but anything that weighs a few pounds would be fine, as long as it’s large, and flat enough to distribute the weight evenly. A book with a few cans of soup on it would do the trick. Regardless of how you press yours, once unwrapped, sliced, and served on a toasted bagel, I think you’ll agree it was worth the wait. So, I really do hope you give this gravlax technique a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 to 10 ounces of Gravlax:
8 to 12 ounce tail section of fresh salmon with skin on (scaled)
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup white sugar
cayenne and/or freshly ground black pepper to taste
enough grated beet and/or fresh dill springs to thickly cover fish

- Press with something heavy, and let cure in fridge for 1 1/2 days, or until salmon is firm, and translucent when sliced. You can carefully unwrap, and poke to test, and then rewrap, and let cure longer if need be.


Clayton Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clayton Smith said...

Hi Chef John! Is it safe to use standard grocery store salmon, or should we be using sashimi grade?

Olof Dahlström said...

A tip for gravlax is to pan fry it lightly and serve it with boiled potatoes in a dill bechamel, its a wonderful summery dish. In Sweden it is called bräckt gravad lax and it is usually made with lightly cured salmon.

Olof Dahlström said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff said...

How long can this be kept in the fridge once cured?

KBO said...

G'day Chef John,
Looks like a fantastic take on cured, fresh salmon; an ingredient we have a lot of in our neck of the woods. Two questions if I may: If one is practiced in removing salmon skin can one remove it before the curing or is there a specific reason why the skin is left on? And,
Can one use drained and diced canned beets; which we call beetroot here, downunder?
Cheers, Bill Halliwell

Sadequs Haque said...

Chef John please make butter chicken. Not only is it extremely delicious, it is super fun to say Butter Chicken.

Tom Houy said...

Is there a benefit to leaving the skin on?

Anna Rogg said...

It has never occurred to me to skin the salmon before curing! I'm sure the skin imparts flavour to the flesh during the curing process. And it also helps the piece keep its shape. This is especially true of farmed salmon, I would think, because the flesh is really really fat and soft and would get pretty squashed under a weight. And who wants to slice gravlax without the skin? It basically serves as a cutting board.

Anna Rogg said...

JEFF: I would say about 2-3 days.

KBO and TOM HOUY: I have never skinned salmon before curing, it has simply never occurred to me. I think the skin is left on because it imparts flavour to the flesh during the curing process. And I would think that it also helps the piece keep its shape. Especially if farmed salmon is what you've got, farmed salmon is unnaturally fat and soft and textureless and would get pretty squashed under a weight if it isn't attached to the skin. And who wants to slice gravlax without the skin??? It basically serves as a cutting board

Malte Ramberg said...

Hi! You should leave the skin on, once you have cut all the salmon you can cut the skin in strips and fry it slowly in a pan (without fat). It will crisp up and it’s a great companion with a cold beer!

Unknown said...

Mine came out gorgeous, but super salty. I think my issue was the salmon wasn't thick enough. I rinsed the salmon and used to make a fabulous cream cheese/sour cream spread that everyone loves.

Lisa Gray said...

Good lord this came out amazing! So soft and buttery, and the colors are beautiful. If I can figure out how to share the picture I will. Great recipe chef, thank you!

Phil LaRocca said...

Hi Chef John!

I followed this recipe to a T, but the texture just wasn't right after 3 days in the fridge. The salmon wasn't particularly thick (very similar to the cut presented in your video). The only difference was I used chopped dill instead of beets. Any thoughts? The texture was very gelatin like, and there was a gooey residue on the knife when I sliced the fish.

I was thinking that perhaps I should used iodizes salt next time instead of kosher salt? Just racking my brain here and can't seem to figure it out!