Monday, 26 December 2016

Beetroot Cured Gravlax with Cream Cheese, Onion and Dill Sauce.

From time to time I make gravlax, a Scandinavian cured fish that is an excellent alternative to smoked salmon. It is easy to make but is best made with a large piece or side of salmon. I particularly like adding Beetroot to the cure, the colour of the Beetroot seeps into the flesh of salmon and creates a lovely blush on the outside edges.

A side of salmon makes quite a large amount which makes it a good choice for Christmas or when you have large numbers or a number of events in a short period of time.

Every third year we host a breakfast on Christmas Day. It has been a long standing tradition between three families who take it turn about and we start early! I try to do something different each time we host, this year we had a bit of a Scandinavian theme and included the gravlax, some home made rye crispbread and cinnamon scrolls.

Gravlax is easy to make but you need to allow at least twenty four hours for the cure to work, a large piece of salmon needs a couple of days.

Beetroot Gravlax

1 side salmon (anywhere from 750 g, this piece weighed 1.5 kg but needed to be trimmed )
2 beetroot, washed and peeled
1 cup coarse salt
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 bunch dill ( keep 1/4 of the bunch for serving)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 -3 juniper berries, crushed, can be omitted but add to the flavour.
1/3 cup vodka or gin


To make the cure blend all the ingredients together. If making by hand you will need to finely grate/chop the beetroot and dill.

Trim the salmon to fit your dish.

Remove the skin (optional) and pin bone or get the fish shop to do it for you.

The dish needs to be a non reactive dish like this pyrex dish. The side of salmon that I purchased was quite a bit bigger and used the excess in another meal.

Line the dish with a layer of cling film/ plastic wrap.

Place a layer of the cure in the bottom of the dish, add the salmon, skin side down and then cover with remaining cure.

Cover with another layer of clingwrap/plastic film, then with a cutting board. I use a sheet of plastic (from an old A4 Art Journal) that I have cut to fit the dish.
The salmon needs to be weighted. I use a brick contained in a plastic bag and place the brick in a tray that also fits in the dish with the salmon. Use tins of food or other heavy items. Stand on tray to collect any liquid that may ooze out of the dish. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours but longer if the salmon is thick. If possible leave for two days.
Remove salmon from the cure and discard the cure. Use paper towel to blot the salmon and remove cure from the surface. Some additional vodka may be used to rinse the surface but I never bother.
Using a very sharp, long thin blade knife slice the salmon diagonally into thin slices. Slice only as much as you need. Wrap unused gravlax in clingfilm and refrigerate. Use within a few days.  

Cream Cheese, Onion and Dill Sauce

250 g cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
juice of 1-2 lemons
1/2 red onion, very finely diced
1/4 bunch dill, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cornichons/dill pickles, finely chopped
a little freshly ground black pepper.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, mix well and check flavours. Add a little more lemon juice if needed.

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