Friday, November 4, 2016

Gravlax with Hovmästarsås Sauce

Subbing for a fellow culinary teacher (I'm on a 1-year leave from my regular position) I showed (and watched with multiple classes) a video demonstration of a chef making gravlax. I knew I had salmon in the freezer, and was inspired to try it out! Gravlax is Scandinavian, Nordic especially, and similar to lox -- a cured but not smoked salmon specialty. Traditionally the salmon is cured with salt, sugar, and dill; frequently other spices (juniper berry, horseradish) and liquor are also incorporated. Historically, the fish was buried during curing ("grav"+ "lax" ...grave salmon), so frequently a weight is placed on the fish during curing which helps the curing elements penetrate the salmon. Most often gravlax is served with hovmästarsås  which is simply a mustard-dill sauce.

Here's a very simple version. Easy, but it needs to cure about 3 days, so plan ahead.

1 lb salmon filet
1/2 C sugar
1/3 C salt (kosher or sea salt)
1 C chopped fresh dill OR 1/3 C dried dill

Serve with...
hovmästarsås sauce (recipe follows)
toasted bread / crostini
butter or cream cheese
fresh dill sprigs for garnish

About 3 days before serving...
Combine sugar and salt in small bowl. Using about 1/3 of the sugar-salt mixture, sprinkle a layer on the bottom of a pan or glass dish just big enough for salmon filet. Top with 1/3 of the dill. Set salmon filet into pan, skin side down. Sprinkle with remaining dill; top with remaining sugar-salt mixture. Cover with plastic wrap. Place a heavy pot or a pan filled with weights (or canned goods) on top of the fish and refigerate for 3 days.

About every 12 hours, drain excess liquid from the pan, flip the filet, re-weight and refrigerate.

To serve...scrape the curing elements from both sides of the fish and pat dry. Place salmon on a cutting board, skin side down; slice very thin, on a slant, across the grain, leaving the skin. Slices can be fanned on a platter for service; keep refrigerated.

Serve on thin sliced bread (a dark, heavy bread is traditional) or crostini. Spread butter or cream cheese onto bread, layer with a lettuce leaf and gravlax slice(s), top with a teaspoon of hovmästarsås sauce and garnish with a dill sprig.

Hovmästarsås Sauce Recipe:

1 small garlic clove, finely minced
2 T cider vinegar
2+ T brown sugar, to taste
2/3 C mustard (preferably coarse grain dark mustard)
1/3 C fresh chopped dill

Blend all ingredients, season to taste. Refrigerate until serving; serve at room temperature.