Earlier this year I received a letter containing some very sad news: my favourite smoked salmon shop in downtown Vancouver was closing down. Usually I would order a fillet or two of fresh smoked salmon for Christmas feasting. So you can imagine my dismay.
But then I remembered that the Swedish have a way of cold-curing salmon with salt. So I did some research and discovered that there are as many recipes out there for this delicacy as there are ways to spell it (there’s gravad lax, or gravlax, or just plain lox). However you want to call it or spell it, it’s yummy. And dead easy. I tweaked a few recipes and found a way to get it done in 24 hours. So here goes – just in time to serve up for your New Year’s Eve party. Or simply to liven up your everyday bagel and cream cheese.
2 sashimi-grade salmon fillets, preferably sockeye, about 1 pound in total
1/2 cup coarse salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup lemon juice
Combine the salt, sugar and chopped dill. Layer half the mixture in a flat-bottomed glass dish.
Lay the salmon fillets on top.
Cover the fillets with the remaining half of the salt mixture.
Place a heavy weight on top of the fillets – you could use a plate, or a bag filled with salt, rice or beans. Make sure the weight is distributed evenly on top of the fillets.
Place the dish in the refrigerator. Check every few hours and drain off the liquids that have accumulated.
After 12 hours, add the lemon juice and return to the refrigerator for another 12 hours.
When the salmon has been cured for a full 24 hours, rinse the fillets under cold running water.
Slice very thinly.
Serve with lemon wedges, chopped capers, minced red onion, and mustard-dill sauce. (I used Hellman’s Creamy Dijonnaise mixed with chopped fresh dill.)
You can also serve it with rye crackers or bread, or provide tasting spoons.