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Jul 4, 2006 04:02 AM

Curing Salmon

I have two salmon fillets from a farmers market stand which I need to use pronto or I'll lose them. Was thinking of curing them gravlax style. Any suggestions on how to go about this? I've seen recipes and have even done it once a LONG time ago, but am looking for some tips. I bought sea salt and dill, probably talking about 12 oz of fish here, fillets w/ the skin on. Thanks for any advice you can provide!
The gravlax looks beautiful, it's firm and a nice deep red color. The taste is slightly salty, but the subtle dill and fennel flavors are nice and I would use this combo again. I think the saltiness is due to the very small quantity of fish and perhaps letting it go a day too long. Any suggestions for cutting the saltiness? I figure I'll serve it with lemon juice and/or zest, but any other ideas are welcome. Would rinsing it a second time help, or is the salt too well permeated?
This was incredibly easy to do, and I don't feel overwhelmed by a whole side of salmon, which is nice.

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  1. The link below is a traditional method with half salt/half sugar and a ton of dill. I like to add a little white pepper too. You can put the other filet on top of the dill and flip it occasionally to distribute the cure:

    1. I assume you mean 12 pounds, not 12 ounces.

      The fresher the better so move quickly. Lots of choices on what to add whatever you would like to flavor the fish. some people have told me to use vodka, some have told me to use lime juice, lots of choices. first time i would keep it basic to understand the "cooking" process.

      A couple of tips i've learned.
      - Wrap each filet in plastic after seasoning
      - Buy a ten pound bag of rice and use that as the weight. it forms to the fish really well for even weight distribution.
      - make sure you flip the filets halfway
      - a lot of liquid will come off the fish so have means of capturing the juice so it does not contaminate other items.
      - If you have a separate fridge in the basement or garage use that one.

      In two days you will have tons of great fish.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jfood

        FWIW, adding lime juice and other strong acids affects the cure and overall look of the end product. Depending on how much you use, acid makes the fish turn opaque pink and pickles it, like ceviche. Salt draws out liquid, concentrating the fish until it's dark red and gives gravlax its beautiful translucence when you slice it paper thin.

        1. re: petradish

          thanks petradish, i should have mentioned i have never added the lime juice (agree w your analysis), but have tried other fresh herbs from the garden. The salts will bring the juices out and the likmes will "cook" w acid, so seems contradictory to do at the same time

      2. Thanks for the great ideas/tips. Actually it really is 12 ounces of fish, this is a mini experiment! I used sea salt, some sugar, black pepper and fennel seed and fresh dill. The two fillets are the same size so they are resting on each other, wrapped in plastic, skin side out and weighted. Love the rice as a weight idea, that is so great! I am going to go do that right now. Thanks for the help, I will post on the outcome!

        1. I always use Julia Child's recipe from the Julia/Jacque cookbook and have had great results. There are two in that book--one is hers and takes a couple of days, one is for quick gravlax which is pre-sliced. I have done both.

          I have successfully done small amounts, say a pound or so--otherwise, how does one eat it all? The key thing is to have pieces that you can stack and face, flesh to flesh. The Julia recipe calls for more salt than sugar, cognac and dill. It does give off an awful lot of juice. For weighing it down, I have taken to using a cast iron enamel gratin pan with a bunch of stuff on top. Seems to work well enough but a bag of rice on top of that sounds ideal.

          all in all, I like the recipe best of those I have tried plus, it has been well received when I brought it to some Swedish events to share with people who ought to know their gravlax.

          1. I'm trying to think of alternative seasonings, maybe a tiny bit of lavender in with the dill would be nice...