You, yes you too, can make luxurious and indulgent food at home that would otherwise cost you an arm and a leg at a restaurant. This cured salmon recipe with the earthy undertones of fresh beets brings easy luxury for just the price of a nice piece of salmon and your labor. It’s called gravlax from the Nordic practice of curing raw salmon in salt. It’s also great with sparkling wine and wheat berry bread as an elegant appetizer for solstice parties, New Year’s Eve, or a most elegant brunch.
It’s true that salmon has a pretty shade of natural orange color but curing it with beets adds the most amazing bright red color to the exterior. The contrasting colors when you cut off slices are really amazing and sure to attract attention. Like other great appetizers, it looks as impressive as it tastes.
Serve it with wheat berry bread toast or a nice cracker such as a rye crispbread. If you have creme fraiche, use it to make a spicy chipotle chili sauce for topping the slices of salmon. A few fresh sprigs of dill are also appropriate to garnish. Your sparkling wine options can include sec, demi-sec or Prosecco because the sweetness in the wine is offset by the saltiness in the gravlax. However, no one will fault you for matching luxury with more luxury by raiding the wine cellar for some Veuve Clicquot.
The longer that you let the salmon cure in the salt and sugar brine, the firmer and saltier the fish will become. Even though the brine is rinsed off later, the saltiness will remain so check a small piece on day two to see how it is progressing.
- ⅓ cup turbinado sugar
- ½ cup sea salt
- 3 Tablespoons vodka or gin
- 2 Tablespoons orange zest
- 6 Tablespoons fresh orange juice (2 oranges)
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
- 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 pounds center cut skin-on salmon fillet
- 2 beets, thinly sliced on a mandoline
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons dill, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon horseradish, peeled and grated
- rye bread or rye crackers, for serving
- In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and ½ cup salt with the vodka/gin and the citrus zest and juice until the sugar dissolves. Place a layer of beets on the bottom of a dish and the salmon on top of the beets. Spread the sugar-citrus mixture evenly on the fish, then layer on dill fronds and the remaining beets. Wrap tightly in plastic. Top with a plate and a weight. Refrigerate until the fish feels firm, 2 to 3 days.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the Dijon, dill, and horseradish until smooth. Season with salt to taste.
- Rinse the cured salmon and pat dry. Slice very thinly across the grain and serve with the remoulade and rye bread/crackers.