How to Prepare a Gourmet Gravlax with Dill and Mustard Sauce?

Gravlax is an ancient Nordic delicacy, a technique of curing salmon with salt, sugar and dill. Over time, this dish has gained worldwide popularity, thanks to its unique taste and texture. This article is a step-by-step guide to preparing your own gourmet gravlax at home, complete with a homemade dill and mustard sauce.

Selecting and Preparing the Salmon

To create the best gravlax, it starts with the selection of high-quality, fresh fish. As the salmon is consumed raw, it has to be fresh and safe for consumption. Ideally, choose a fillet of salmon with the skin on. It should have a vibrant color, a firm texture, and a fresh smell.

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After selection, the next crucial step is preparation. Rinse the salmon fillet under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Make sure to check for any remaining bones in the fillet and remove them using a pair of fish tweezers.

Preparing the Cure Mixture

The cure mixture is what imparts the distinct flavor to the gravlax. It is a simple blend of salt, sugar, and fresh dill. For a piece of salmon weighing around a kilo, you will need half a cup each of salt and sugar.

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In a bowl, combine the salt and sugar, then add a bunch of chopped fresh dill. The quantities mentioned here are a guideline, but feel free to adjust according to your taste preferences. The salt and sugar act as curing agents, drawing out the moisture from the fish and preserving it, while dill adds a fresh, herby flavor to the salmon.

Curing the Salmon

Once the cure mixture is ready, it’s time to start the curing process. Place the salmon fillet skin-side down on a piece of cling film large enough to wrap the entire fillet. Evenly spread the cure mixture over the flesh side of the salmon. Make sure to cover all the flesh, right to the edges.

Then, wrap the salmon tightly in the cling film, ensuring there are no air pockets. Place the wrapped fillet in a dish deep enough to capture any liquid that might seep out during the curing process.

Now, place the dish in the fridge and let it cure for a minimum of 48 hours. During this time, turn the salmon every 12 hours to ensure an even cure.

Preparing the Dill and Mustard Sauce

While the salmon is curing, you can prepare the dill and mustard sauce. This sauce is a traditional accompaniment to gravlax and enhances the flavor of the cured salmon.

In a bowl, mix together one tablespoon of mustard, one teaspoon of sugar, two tablespoons of white wine vinegar, salt to taste, and a generous amount of chopped fresh dill. Slowly whisk in half a cup of vegetable oil, until you obtain a thick, emulsified sauce. Adjust the seasoning if necessary and refrigerate until needed.

Serving the Gourmet Gravlax

After the curing period, the salmon should feel firm to touch. Unwrap the fillet and rinse off the cure mixture under cold running water. Pat dry and place the salmon skin-side down on a cutting board.

Using a sharp knife, slice the salmon thinly on a diagonal, detaching each slice from the skin. Arrange the slices of cured salmon on a platter, drizzle with the dill and mustard sauce, and serve.

Your homemade gourmet gravlax is now ready to be enjoyed. It is a dish that demands time and patience, but the end result, with its mix of salty, sweet, and herby flavors, is worth the effort. Whether served as an appetizer or a main, this smoked delicacy is sure to impress any dinner guest.

Additional Information: Different Variations and Accompaniments

Gravlax is a versatile dish and can be customized according to your preferences. While the traditional recipe calls for a curing mixture of salt, sugar, and dill, you can experiment with other ingredients to create different flavor profiles. For example, adding fennel, coriander, or caraway seeds can add an interesting twist to your gravlax recipe. Citrus zest like lemon or orange can introduce a fresh note to the dish. For a spicy kick, try adding chili flakes or freshly ground black pepper to the salt mixture.

Another variant is to use different types of sea salt. Each type of sea salt will impart a subtly different flavor to the cured salmon. For instance, smoked sea salt can give the illusion of smoked salmon without having to smoke it.

The mustard dill sauce is a traditional accompaniment, but feel free to pair your salmon gravlax with other sauces as well. A beetroot and horseradish puree can provide a sweet and spicy contrast to the dish. Alternatively, a simple lemon and dill vinaigrette can enhance the fresh flavors of the salmon.

Gravlax can be served in various ways. It can be presented as an appetizer on a platter with capers, onions, and boiled eggs. It can also be served as a main course with boiled potatoes and a side salad. For a more casual setting, you can serve the gravlax on rustic rye bread or crispy flatbreads.

Conclusion: Enjoying the Fruits of Your Labor

Creating homemade gravlax is truly a labor of love. It demands patience and attention to detail, but the reward is a gourmet delicacy that can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home. This step-by-step guide has shown you how to prepare salmon gravlax from scratch, from selecting and preparing the salmon fillet, to creating the curing mixture, to serving the finished product with a homemade mustard sauce.

This guide has also provided variations on the traditional gravlax recipe, allowing you to experiment and create your own unique version of this Nordic delicacy. Remember, the key to a successful gravlax is the quality of the ingredients and the time given for the curing process. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a kitchen novice, this guide offers a window into the ancient culinary tradition of gravlax preparation.

But beyond the process, gravlax is about savoring each bite. It’s about appreciating the interplay of the salty, sweet, and herby flavors on your palate. So, take the time to enjoy your homemade gravlax, whether you’re sharing it with friends and family or savoring it in solitude. After all, good food is meant to be savored, and homemade gravlax is no exception.