The first set of boxes that I unpacked –after our move last weekend– were my notebooks from the chef training program at the Natural Gourmet Institute. (I completed the program during the Spring and Summer of 1999 –Eeeeks! I am getting old!) The Natural Gourmet is focused on health supportive cooking. The curriculum focus is to prepare whole foods; mainly vegetarian meals prepared with seasonal, local, and organic ingredients, whole grains, and natural sweeteners. On occasion, we had classes that introduced meat preparation. We discussed the pros and cons of eating wild vs farmed fish, various ways to prepare hormone and antibiotic-free chicken, and ways to prepare organic egg dishes. They were teaching us how to be locavores – before it was trendy. Such foresight, no?Gravad lax is a traditional Scandinavian method of curing salmon with salt, a little sugar, and dill for a few days. There is no cooking involved. The salt will simply “cook” the salmon for you in the refrigerator. I assure you, once you’ve had homemade Gravad Lax, you’ll pass on anything other than the real deal. The recipe that I am sharing with you today is adapted from Anne Willan’s La Varenne Pratique, with more health supportive ingredients in place of some of the originals.
Homemade Gravad Lax Recipe
What you’ll need from the market…
To cure the fish:
3 Tablespoons coarse salt
2 Tablespoons maple granules (you should be able to find these at markets like Whole Foods)
12 crushed black peppercorns
1 large bunch of dill
2 thick wild salmon fillets that are the same size, about 12 ounces each
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons dry mustard
2 Tablespoons rice syrup
3 Tablespoons chopped dill
1) Sprinkle the salt, maple granules and peppercorns on the cut side of the salmon fillet
2) Cover with sprigs of dill, using the entire bunch.
3) Lay the other fillet on top, cut side down and head to tail so that the fish is an even thickness.
4) Set a heavy board or weighted plate on top of the salmon. Cover loosely and refrigerate for at least two days. Turn the salmon over every twelve hours. Baste with the juice that is drawn out by the salt.
5) Drain the fish and discard the seasonings and dill. The salmon will keep for 1-2 days in the fridge.
Scandinavian Mustard Sauce Recipe
Method: Make a paste with the 2 Tablespoons dry mustard 2 Tablespoons rice syrup. Stir into the 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise. Add 3 Tablespoons chopped dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste.