Monday, 9 May 2011


What the fuck is gravlax, you ask?
I think the word translates literally, from some Scandinavian language, to something like grave salmon, or zombie salmon - or something. I don't really know.
What I do know is that it is fucking great!
I like it a lot and it's a lot like lox.    
"Lox," "lax," you see the similarity. The similarity is more than orthographic.
Gravlax is salmon with the moisture sucked right out of it with salt.
Yup, that's right, good ol' salted fish. Lox is also salted fish, the primary difference being that lox is cold smoked after it is salted - gravlax is not. Nope, it gets it's peculiar name from it's history of being buried in the dirt to ferment.
We're gonna skip that last step.

This is a dish that would have traditionally been made in the fall, after the salmon run. But, we are no longer restrained by seasonal necessity and can make this shit whenever the fuck we want. That being said, I do prefer to eat seasonally - not because I have to, rather because I find that the food which is in season seems to fit my culinary mood most times (although I do admit to forcing myself to be in seasonal moods on occasion).

What do you need to make it?
You need a slab o' salmon and a bunch of salt is what you need, and various random bits to fuck around with the flavour.
Now, if you don't want to fuck with the flavour of salmon, which is a grand flavour, for sure, then don't fuck with it; take the salting directions and leave out the other business.
I added some other shit:

About 60 grams of fresh dill, roughly chopped
1organic lemon, zest and juice
1 red beetroot, shredded - you can use golden or chioggia beet if you like, but the real point of the beet in this recipe is to add some fun colour to the fish, and the golden would add no real colour, and the colour from chioggia beets doesn't bleed out like it does with the red.

There is one piece of specialty cookware that you'll need for this recipe:

a big fucking brick.

Alternately, a few regular bricks, or some other object(s) equivalent in weight. You'll see why soon enough.

Take your salmon fillet and place it on a sheet pan.
Salt the hell out of that fucker. I mean it.
Cover that thing in salt. Use nice, coarse sea salt too; don't use that iodized shit - unless you want your fish to suck.
Do you want your fish to suck?
I didn't think so.

Pat that salt onto the fish and add your other shit as well, patting it all on to the fish nicely - beets and all.
Yeah, your hands are going to stain from the beets.
So fucking what.
You can wear gloves if you like, but I prefer to wear my beet stains like battle scars. I like to bond with my food. Food isn't something to fear, ya nancies.

Wrap that fish in cling film and get that brick.

You'll want to wrap your brick in something, for hygiene's sake.
Slap that brick on top of your seasoned, wrapped fish. You'll want to ensure that your fish is weighted as evenly as possible, although perfect distribution is not at all necessary. This will serve as our equivalent to burying the fish in the ground, without our having to worry about some other bastard digging it up and eating it.
Toss that shit in the fridge and leave it there for at least a day - best to leave it for 2.

2 days later...

Pull that shit out (that's what she said).
You'll notice that there's significantly more liquid in your sheet pan than when you put your fish in the fridge.
That's good. That means shit worked the way we planned it.

You'll also notice that all of the stuff you patted onto your fish now sort of looks like crap.
Scrape it off.
Wipe it with a kitchen towel if need be - you really don't need any of that shit kickin' around. All the flavour you need from your seasoning has already been taken up by the fish.
No toppings necessary.

Some knife skills are going to come in handy at this point, and, quite importantly, a good sharp knife.
Slice your gravlax just as you would slice lox.
Better yet, slice it just as Morimoto would slice lox. I could offer tips on how to slice lox here, but you're better off downloading some videos of Morimoto working his magic and practising on your own. My knife skills are okay; his are amazing.
Practising your knife skills is really the only way to get better with the blade. Those chefs you see on TV slicing paper thin daikon and perfect sashimi at lightning speeds don't have some magical, innate talent, what they have are shitloads of prep hours under their belts, dozens of scars on their hands, and real restaurant experience.

Gravlax looks like lox, it's sliced like lox, and it's every bit as versatile as lox. It works in salads, sandwiches, wraps, on its own - however you please. It matches well with cream cheese, red onion, and caper - which is how I had it last.
Just make sure to slice it thin - it does make a difference.

Fishy dishy yum!