Over the Shabbat Project a few weeks ago we were fortunate to be invited to the home of some friends for a delightful and delicious Shabbat dinner. Our hostess, Tammy, served thin slices of salmon that she had cured herself and she was kind enough to share the recipe with me. I am terrible at following recipes though, always changing things and improvising according to what I have on hand and what I like, so this is not the original recipe I received but is equally delicious and really very simple to make. The key is to get your fishmonger to do the hard work of removing the skin and the blood line (the grey bit) from the fillet of salmon. After that, you simply add salt, sugar, fresh herbs, beetroot, lemon zest and a bit of alcohol and leave the fish to cure for at least 2 days. Scrape everything off, pat dry, slice and you have you something so much better than any store bought version I have seen. You don’t have to use the beetroot and the version I had at the Shabbat dinner was made without it, but I love the pink stain the beetroot leaves against the orange flesh. You can slice this as you need and store the remaining portion glad wrapped in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. I have a good knife and I managed to slice it quite thinly, but if you struggle, pop it in the freezer for an hour to firm up and then it will be easier to slice thinly. I served my salmon as part of a Shabbat dinner entree with an assortment of dips, avocado, breads and rye crackers. If you are serving it for a brunch or lunch, add some white cheese, dill sprigs and capers to the platter.
Beetroot Cured Salmon (Gravlax)
800g salmon fillet, skin and blood line removed (ask your fishmonger to do this)
8 tbspn coarse rock salt
4 tbspn raw sugar
1 big bunch dill, finely chopped
1/2 bunch tarragon, leaves only
1 beetroot, coarsely grated
zest of 1 lemon
Combine the salt and sugar in a small bowl.
Find a dish that the salmon will fit snugly into. (I used a glass baking dish).
Spread half the salt/sugar mixture into the bottom of the dish.
Add half the dill, half the tarragon, half the beetroot, half the lemon zest and half the gin and then place the salmon down on top of all of that.
Sprinkle the remaining salt and sugar over the salmon and then top with the remaining ingredients.
Cover well with glad wrap and weigh down with something heavy. I used about 5 or 6 cans of chickpeas and tomatoes I had in pantry, but a brick wrapped in foil will also work.
Place in the fridge for at least 48 hours (up to 72 hours).
Remove from the fridge, unwrap and remove salmon from the cure mixture. Use a spoon to scrape the mixture of the fish, rinse and then pat dry with a paper towel.
Thinly slice the salmon and serve with lemon slices and finely chopped dill.
Slice as you need and the uncut portion of the fish will keep for up to 2 weeks tightly wrapped in glad wrap and left in the fridge.