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Dec 3, 2013 09:48 PM

gravlax or wild smoked salmon?

Giving a party for my mother's birthday in New Orleans. Inspired by her worldview and flair, the party should be the kind of party where Edith Piaf might be singing, and where you might find the long lost Tsar and Tsarina.

That said, I'm making various canip├ęs. Should I go with wild smoked salmon, or gravlax? (I love both, so I'm worried I'm not a good judge.) Do most people like gravlax, or does it seem too raw for most people?

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  1. Which will be more successful will depend on the tastes of your mother and her guests. Ask which she would prefer, perhaps?

    1. I adore both, too.

      Gravlax is wicked, but in my opinion, to be elevated above simple cured salmon, it needs to be intensely flavoured with something, my tastes running to either Pernod or aquavit.

      If you intend to serve gravlax, for the love of god, please say that you're making it at home. It's so bobo-easy to do and so much cheaper than buying it, it's really not worth thinking about.

      3 Replies
      1. re: biggreenmatt

        Thanks! That is helpful!

        I'm considering making it, but part of the challenge is I'm traveling to the party, and from the moment I land have 48 hours to prepare everything! I don't have time for any hiccups!

        I've made it before using Jacques Pepin's "quick gravlax" recipe. I haven't made a big slab before; although it does look very easy.

        Do you have a favorite recipe?

        1. re: susubagert

          Um, no, not really.

          The basic proportion is what, 2:1 salt:sugar, and add to that what I'm in the mood for. Like I said, I prefer an anise-y gravlax, so I'd put something like fennel seed, black pepper, coriander, caraway in the cure and I'd splash some aquavit or pernod on top, maybe some sliced fennel or lemon rind, but really, it's sort of what I'm feeling like at the time.

          Once you get the basic proportions down, the rest should come easy. Feel like giving it a Chinese bent? Szechuan peppercorn, cinnamon, orange peel, clove, star anise into the cure, splashing on some rice liquor. North American Steakhouse? Hell, fine-grind some Montreal (or do you guys call it Canadian?) Steak Spice into the cure and rye whiskey. Why not?

          Imagination and basic proportions. That's all you need.

        2. re: biggreenmatt

          The hardest part of making gravlax, IMHO, is finding a big enough piece of salmon. The next hardest part is boning it if the fishmonger hasn't already done it: actually, it's more tedious than hard, and a pair of pliers helps get all those little bones out.

          I try to make it for a party every summer: people must like it, since there's never any left. I use a James Beard recipe, which is equal parts salt and sugar (with dill if I happen to have some, which I usually don't), rubbed generously over all sides of the fish. Then the cut sides of the fish are put together, covered with a sheet of foil, and placed in a ceramic pan. Put a weight on top of the fish (I use a couple of cans of beans on a small board), refrigerate, and turn the fish every day or so for about a week. You can see the cure taking effect in a day or so - the fish will lose a lot of liquid.