I have been making straightforward gravlax — using just dill, salt and sugar — for years, and always toyed with the idea of making a beet version. To be honest, the beet only flavors the fish flesh slightly, but makes its mark through the color it imparts. A platter of sliced beet-cured gravlax is just glorious looking: furls of coral edged with crimson. This is a splendid dish for feeding a lot of people (it’s a boon at Christmas) and it doesn’t take much effort. Go for organically farmed salmon from a good source or wild Alaskan salmon.
- 2 3/4 pound tail piece of salmon, cut into halves, filleted, but skin left on
- 1/3 cup vodka
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup sea salt flakes
- 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
- large bunch of dill, roughly chopped
- 5 raw beets, grated
- Check the salmon for any bones your fish dealer might have missed (rubbing your hand along the flesh is the best way to find them). Remove any you find with tweezers.
- Line a dish big enough to hold the salmon with a double layer of aluminum foil (I usually use a roasting pan). Put one of the pieces of salmon, skin down, on top. Rub it with half the vodka.
- Mix together the sugar, salt, pepper, dill and beet and spread it over the salmon. Pour the rest of the vodka over the fish and put the other piece of salmon (skin up) on top.
- Pull the foil up around the fish, then put some weights on top (such as cans, jars or a heavy cutting board). Refrigerate and let cure for two to four days, turning every so often. Liquid will seep out of the salmon in this time; just pour it off.
- Remove the foil and scrape the cure off both pieces of fish. To serve, slice as you would smoked salmon (leave the skin behind). Use as needed and keep, wrapped, in the refrigerator for a week.
How to use
Chrain, a Jewish relish, goes as well with corned beef as it does with gravlax. Horseradish cream is also ideal with either.
Put 4 cooked beets, peeled and cut into chunks, in a food processor with 2 1/2 cups grated horseradish root, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (preferably white), 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and salt, to taste. Pulse-blend to a coarse mixture (not a purée). Serves 6.
Beat 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream, then add 2 1/2 tablespoons grated horseradish root, 3/4 tablespoon white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon English mustard, sugar, and salt to taste and a good squeeze of lemon. The vinegar and lemon will thicken the cream, so don’t overbeat. Serves 6.
Check out these other salmon recipes on Food Republic: