Many years ago, I had a new acquaintance and we found ourselves talking about — what else? — food. We were amazed to find out that we both were hooked on sesame Ryvita crackers. These are a simple whole grain, healthy cracker that we both loved. We talked about how we like to slather them with unsalted butter and top them off with smoked salmon or gravlax. It turned out we both liked to cook. Around that time I discovered that Costco sold fresh wild salmon. I don’t remember who had the idea but we decided to make our own gravlax.
Gravlax means cured salmon. It’s a Swedish specialty of raw salmon cured in a salt-sugar-herb mixture, with vodka added. We decided to use tequila to cure it, because everything is better with tequila. We got a little obsessed and for several weeks kept making gravlax until we couldn’t eat anymore.
The acquaintance is my good friend Dano (who is now vegetarian) and the gravlax became a great staple for large parties. It’s fairly easy and depending on the size of salmon can serve quite a few. Of course, you can buy smoked salmon readymade but I prefer it homemade, so I can give it a unique flavor.
Serve it with butter and dark pumpernickel bread or, of course, sesame Ryvita.
TEQUILA CURED GRAVLAX
EVENT: Apps & Alcohol
SERVES: Approximately 20 People
For the gravlax:
Two 1 1/2 pound salmon fillets with skin on (try to get fillets that match if possible) *
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 bunches cilantro minced
1/2 cup fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup tequila
1 jar (12 oz) caper berries
1. Rinse both fillets under cold water and pat dry.
2. Run fingers along top of fillets and remove any pin bones. Use a tweezers if necessary.
3. Mix the salt, sugar and pepper.
4. Rub equal amount of the salt-sugar mixture on each fillet on the flesh side. Gently massage into flesh.
5. Sprinkle equal amounts of the cilantro on each salmon fillet.
6. Place a wire rack in a large baking pan and cover with a double thickness of cheesecloth, leaving a few inches (4-6) on each side.
7. Place one fillet on cheesecloth, skin side down.
8. Place second fillet on top of first skin side up — making a fillet sandwich — and drizzle tequila. Wrap the cheesecloth up and over the sides of the fillet making a tight package.
9. Cover the fish with plastic wrap.
10. Set baking sheet on top of salmon. Weigh it down using a brick or several cans of food.
11. Refrigerate the salmon for 4 days, turning it every 12 hours.
1. Using a dish towel or spatulas, scrape off the cure (sugar and spices) from the salmon.
2. Using a very sharp knife, remove salmon skin. Slice salmon into thin slices.
3. Serve surrounded by sliced shallots and caper berries.
* A NOTE: I purchase wild salmon filets at Costco.