Gravlaks served with red onion, lemon, rye bread, crackle bread, potato tortillas, mustard sauce and a small glass of aquavit. (Photo: Adam Liaw, Destination Flavor Scandinavia / SBS Food)
Curing salmon is an easy way to make a really tasty meal, and the preservation method has probably been used all the way back to the Viking Age. Cured salmon is known as gravlaks in Norwegian and regarded a delicacy.
(Starter, snack, serves 8)
1 kg (2.2 lbs) of salmon fillet (about a whole side), with skin, without bones
75 grams (2.6 oz) of sugar
75 grams (2.6 oz) of salt
1 teaspoon of ground pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped dill
Aquavit / brandy
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped dill
80 milliliters (1/3 cup) grape seed oil
You do not have to see the salmon produced here in the Namdalen valley, Central Norway, to understand that the quality is superb. (Photo: SinkabergHansen AS)
Divide the fish fillet crosswise into two so that there are two approximately equal parts. Place both sides with the skin side down on a large piece of plastic film.
Mix together sugar, salt and pepper and pour the mixture over the fish in a thick layer and sprinkle with dill. Pour over some drops of aquavit (see below) or brandy.
Place one part over the other so that the two skin sides face outwards. The narrow ends shall point in the same direction. Wrap the fish tightly in at least three layers of plastic film. Gently press when wrapping to get out as much air as possible. Place the fish on a dish and put it in the refrigerator for 48 hours.
Turn the fish every twelve hours.
Whisk the ingredients together, except the grape seed oil, until they are well mixed. Continue to whisk when you little by little add some oil until the sauce has got the right consistency.
Gravlaks with Mustard Sauce
Take the fish out of the plastic and put it on a cutting board. Wipe the fish gently with damp kitchen paper to remove the remains of sugar and salt. Wipe again with dry kitchen paper. Cut thin slices of the salmon with a large, sharp knife.
Cured salmon is served with mustard sauce, lemon boats, red onion rings, rye bread and potato tortillas – or be creative and try out other types of bread, however, mustard and red onion are a must.
Aquavit is Scandinavian spirit that has roots back to the fourteenth century. It gets distilled with herbs and spices like moth, fennel and dill. If you do not have aquavit, a good brandy can also be used.