Homemade Gravlax with Wild Alaskan Salmon
‘Tis the season for fresh, sustainable wild Alaskan salmon, and there’s none better than the rich, buttery fish from the Copper River. Gravlax is a Swedish specialty that cures the salmon with a mixture of salt, sugar and spices. It’s a simple, no-cook technique requiring nothing more than a little prep work and time. There many of variations of gravlax. Our version uses a basic combination of granulated and brown sugars, coarse sea salt and black pepper that lets the luscious flavor and texture of the fish really shine. You could customize this in any number of ways – swap black pepper for earthy white pepper, add lemon or orange rind, etc. Serve thinly sliced on multigrain crackers, garnished with chopped fresh dill and grated lemon zest. Or you could go old school and serve it with fresh bagels, cream cheese, capers and thinly sliced red onion.
Combine the first 4 ingredients in a small bowl.
Place a large piece of plastic wrap in 10-inch (or other 2-quart) baking dish with enough extending over the sides of the dish to bring up and wrap over the salmon.
Cut a 4-foot piece of cheesecloth. Fold it into quarters to make a piece about 2 square feet. Lay the cheesecloth on a work surface.
Pat the salmon fillet dry with paper towels (so the salt mixture adheres to it). Rub about 1/3rd of the salt mixture over the skin side of the fillet. Lay fillet in the center of the cheesecloth. Rub the remaining salt mixture on the top and around the sides of the fillet. Wrap the cheesecloth over the fillet to cover the fish. Place it, skin side down, in the prepared dish. Bring the sides of the plastic wrap up to cover the fish.
Place a pie plate on top of the fish. Weigh it down with cans. Refrigerate 24 hours.
Remove fish from refrigerator. Unwrap the plastic and turn the cheesecloth-wrapped fish over. Replace plastic and pie dish with cans. Refrigerate 24 hours.
Remove from refrigerator. Unwrap the salmon and rinse it thoroughly under cold running water. Pat it dry with paper towels. Use a razor-sharp knife (a boning knife is good for this) to thinly slice the salmon.