I have wanted to make gravlax for years. My biggest stumbling block was having the ingredients on hand and planning three days in advance. Three days ago it all came together. Gravlax is traditionally made with salmon, but I prepared my gravlax with Steelhead Trout and another time using wild salmon.
Don't confuse gravlax with smoked salmon. Gravlax is cured in the refrigerator with a rub of salt, sugar, and dill. The result is a moist, mild and delicious treat. Smoked salmon is cured similarly to gravlax and then cold smoked to add a light, smokey flavor. Aside from the light smokey flavor of the smoked salmon, the biggest difference between the two is that I (and you) can easily make gravlax at home with no smoking required. Once covered in the salt, sugar, dill mixture, the salmon is wrapped in plastic wrap, weighted, and refrigerated for 1-3 days. I like a richer flavor so I let the fish cure for 3 days.
¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
A handful of fresh sprigs of dill, roughly chopped
One 1-lb salmon fillet, skin and any pin bones removed
- In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, salt, pepper, and dill. Use your hands to do this so that you break up any clumps in the sugar.
- Put a large piece of plastic wrap on your work surface and put half of the salt mixture on the plastic, spreading it to an even thickness that measures slightly bigger than your piece of salmon. Put the salmon on top of the mixture and cover it with the remaining half of the salt mixture. Use your hands to pack the mixture on and around the fish.
- Wrap the salmon tightly in the plastic wrap, using an extra piece if needed, but leave the ends open so some air can circulate and the liquid from the fish can drain easily. Put the wrapped salmon on a wire rack set on a small, rimmed baking sheet and put another baking sheet on to of the fish. Put something heavy, like a cast-iron pan or a couple of cans of tomatoes, on top of the baking sheet to weigh it down.
- Place the weighted salmon into the refrigerator and let the salmon cure for at least 2 days, for a light cure (the salmon will still be moist), or up to 3 days, for a more intense cure.
- Flip the salmon once a day and drain off whatever liquid accumulates on the baking sheet.
- When the salmon is cured, unwrap it, thoroughly rinse off the salt mixture, and pat dry with paper towels. Thinly slice the salmon on the diagonal.
- Serve with toast, cream cheese, and thinly sliced cucumbers.