Hello readers, Gin wife hear again to talk about cooking with gin. Or, in today’s case, not cooking with gin. Pickling, maybe. Preserving? I’m not too sure on the exact term, but there is definitely no cooking involved.
So are you feeling brave? Good. Let’s talk Gravlax. Gravlax is a Scandinavian dish of salmon dry-cured in sugar, salt, and delicious flavors like dill, or you know, gin. Well, the gin is my addition. Traditionally one uses aquavit. And this was a surprisingly delicious dish. A bit like lox, for those familiar with it. You can taste the juniper, and any notes of the gin in it. I chose a navy strength gin (Perry’s Tot) to ensure a strong flavor and I had some vague ideas about a higher proof being safer, backed up by nothing by assumptions. And as always, this is not an alcohol-free dish!
The gravlax recipe is simple but you need time. I let it sit for 72 hours, but some recipes have you digging in after as short as 24 hours. I would opt for the 72 hours. You’ll also need some fridge space to let this sit.
Salmon, about a pound. This will make 2 party’s worth of gravlax. Half or quarter the recipe as needed.
1 cup sugar
1 cup salt
1 bunch fresh dill, cleaned
2 oz gin, navy strength, plus more for sprinkling
A non-shallow pan, a casserole dish would be perfect. Not too big, just about the size of the salmon fillet.
Lots of plastic wrap
Weights – that can of beans you’ll never eat, pie weights if you have them, a book you don’t care for wrapped in plastic, etc.
Fridge space – enough for the pan and the weights
A sharp knife
Make sure the salmon looks nice and fresh. No smells? No slime? You’re probably okay. Ask your local fishmonger if you have any doubts. Safety first!
Slice the salmon in half, length wise, with a very sharp knife. Butterfly it, essentially.
Mix the sugar and salt together in the casserole dish. Take the filet with skin and place it skin side down on the dish. Now bury it! Sprinkle about an ounce of gin over this fillet. Add about half the dill. Tuck it under the salmon if you feel inclined. Add the other piece of fillet on top and repeat.
Make sure your salmon is covered with the sugar, salt, and dill mixture. Wrap the dish in plastic, with enough give that you can press the plastic down around the fish. Add your weights! We want this to be a pressed salmon.
Now, stick it in the fridge. Every 24 hours, check it – sprinkle a little bit of gin. Flip the filets each time, and make sure they are covered. The sugar/salt mixture will become more like a liquid mixture, that’s fine. Remember to cover and press the salmon each time you take it out. If anything ever starts to smell bad, abort and try again. But with that much sugar and salt, you should only smell delicious salmon.
After about 72 hours, take that salmon out! It might be a bit stiff around the edges. Brush it clean, and get rid of the preserving stuff. Make a note to scrub that pot.
Slice the salmon very thin, on the diagonal. This will be very strong tasting on its on – try it! It’s good. If you find it a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. You don’t have to eat this on its own.
Gravlax on Brioche
Gravlax (you just made them!)
Cucumber, sliced thin
Dill, for garnish
Brioche or french bread sliced into bite-sized pieces (Pictured here is the gluten free version, recipe from Gluten Free on a Shoestring’s recipe book about baking!)
Spread the bread rounds with cream cheese.
Add thin salmon slice
Top with cucumber and garnish with dill.
So that, friends, is the way to gin-soaked fish. It’s delicious, and worth the three day wait – nice, sweet-salty flavor with essence of dill and juniper. A good app for parties, or a solid dinner idea when you don’t know what to do with all this fish. Try it out and let me know what you think!