The Great Gravlax Experiment: The Final Chapter

I went through a bit of a gravlax obsession back in December and early January of this year. And I thought I was pretty much done, little did I know I would be making the silky, salty indulgence once again, a few months later. I call this the last chapter but maybe, don’t quote me. I thought the Fuggedaboutit method was pretty much the last of the experiments but here we are again. I was watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on Food Network and forgive me but I don’t remember the restaurants’ name but it is Swedish and as the chef started to make the buried salmon, my eyes were glued. This is a bit modified, as on day 3 or 4, he flipped the fish and I chopped my dill, instead of keeping it whole and I didn’t add the customary akvavit, instead I added a shot of vodka and I added juniper berries. What allured me was he didn’t put a weight on it. Each time I made the gravlax, I put a big paver stone on top of layers of brown paper, with cling wrap underneath. It looked a little sad and less glamorous of a process that I think gravlax should be, lol. This method, ladies and gents is glamorous. No unglamorous paver stone or brick sitting in your refrigerator for days! And he used substantially less salt than I have. I was excited to try this new method, probably a real classic way to do it but it’s been fun experimenting and has brought us here. Enjoy and Happy Weekend!

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  • 1 pound salmon, skin left on
  • kosher salt
  • 5 juniper berries
  • chopped dill, stems and all, a nice amount to coat the fish completely
  • a shot of vodka

In a non-reactive dish, lay the fish down, flesh side up and sprinkle the shot of vodka over it. Sprinkle kosher salt all over the fish but not going crazy, the way I was in previous experiments. I was literally burying the fish in salt. This is a nice sprinkling, covering it completely. Dot it with juniper berries and top with a generous amount of dill. Cover with two layers of plastic wrap and allow to sit for 4 days. I didn’t flip mine on the third day as the chef did, I left it and had pretty good results.

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And this time, as per the chefs’ instructions, I didn’t rinse the salty dill mixture off, I just scrapped everything off with a spoon and I’m not sure if that made a difference but the dill flavor was outstanding. I really liked the way this came out. Hope you do too!

DSC05700Serve the gravlax with sour cream on top of crispy crackers, dotted with mustard. Or any glamorous way you fancy! Enjoy!

The Great Gravlax Experiment: Fuggedabouit Method

The easiest method with really yummy results. This method has no aromatics except for juniper berries, no alcohol or need to flip at a certain time. This is by far the easiest way to make gravlax, you fuggedabouit and there it is, beautiful, almost silky with minimal effort. Enjoy!

  • 1/2 pound salmon filet with skin on
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 10 juniper berries, crushed

Divide the salt and juniper berries add the filet and cover with the rest of the salt and juniper berries. Cover with plastic wrap, about 3 layers. Top with either cardboard or a brown bag and top with a weight. I used a paver stone and a nice big rock. Fuggedabouit and allow to sit for a minimum of 2 days.

DSC05165Uncover and rinse off the salt, pat dry and cut into thin slices. Serve with thinly sliced bread, dried overnight, whipped cream cheese and capers.

DSC05206*The updated no-measure fuggedabouit method: I took a small non reactive pan to fit the piece of salmon and poured some salt on the bottom of it, along with a generous amount of juniper berries. I placed the salmon skin side up and covered it with more salt, ensuring that the sides are buried in salt. Cover with a few layers of plastic wrap, top with a paper bag and add your weights and wait it out. I waited a week with great results, although 2 days should do the trick. (Always use a little extra caution when eating raw fish.)

The Great Gravlax Experiment II: Fennel & Lemon

I admit, I’m obsessed and wanted to give it another whirl. I had some fennel tops in the fridge, thinking I would use them either in a soup or stew and then I thought why not use it to make gravlax? And it came out pretty good. I think juicing a lemon onto the fish, was a little bit of a mistake, even though, it did come out good. It added the slightest hint of bitterness. The slightest hint of bitterness. But it was still good…Really good, and the obsession continues…Enjoy!
DSC05160The ingredients:

  • 1 salmon portion, a pound, closest to the head
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • fennel tops
  • 1/4 cup cucumber vodka
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • freshly ground course black pepper

Combine the salt and the sugar. And slice up those fennel tops into thin slices along with that lemon.

DSC05134In a non-reactive container, layer the fennel slices, half of the salt mixture, ground pepper and half of the lemon slices. Top with the salmon, skin side down. Begin layering again, topping with the salt mixture, the lemon slices, fennel slices and the black pepper. Pour the vodka over the fish and around it. Wrap with plastic wrap a few times and apply a weight to it. Using a smaller dish with a weight in it is good or even a brown bag with the weights on that, is good too. Place in the fridge and wait 24 hours. After 24 hours, onto a dish, place what is on top of the fish and flip the fish over and cover with what was removed. (This is the part that I juiced in a lemon…not the best idea. Ignore that I even mentioned it. lol) Replace the plastic and weights and back into the fridge it goes for another 24 hours. It was about six on Saturday night and I flipped it again and had it the next morning…with flax crispbread, capers and mustard. Oh what a nice Sunday morning…

Start on a Thursday night to enjoy on Sunday morning…

The Great Gravlax Experiment: Dill & Clementine

I haven’t been this excited in the kitchen in a long time. I’ve always wanted to make my own cured salmon. And the other night, I was looking through the Joy of Cooking and saw a recipe for gravlax – the basics, being salt and lots of it. I was excited! I was going to bury a raw piece of fish in salt and come out with something delicious! I could barely wait to try this out! My brother-in-law brought over some pickling salt, was I excited- thinking this would be the perfect salt to use. It’s from the Klodawa salt mine, in central Poland, something I would love to see one day. As odd as it may sound, the salt smells beautiful. Most larger Polish delis carry it, if not, no worries, just use kosher salt. And so the fun began. I took so many more pictures than I usually do,step-by-step, some of them a little dark – because they are taken in our kitchen at night- but as I said, I was excited, lol. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. It’s just in time for the holidays! Enjoy!

DSC05128         Ingredients needed:

  • 1 pound piece salmon, cut towards the head
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 1 clementine, cut into 8 slices
  • about 10 juniper berries
  • 1/4 cup cucumber vodka

In a non-reactive dish, place the dill on the bottom of the dish, top with clementine slices and half the juniper berries…

DSC05083Combine the salt and sugar and spread half of it over the layered dill, clementines and juniper berries…sprinkle with half of the vodka.

DSC05088Next, top with the salmon, skin side down, top with the clementines, juniper berries…

DSC05090Top with the remaining salt mixture and vodka…

DSC05092Add on that dill…

DSC05094Next, wrap with plastic wrap, about three times, allowing some give – pressing down onto the salmon. Top with a weight. I didn’t have a smaller dish, so I improvised…at least it made me laugh..place in the fridge for one day…

DSC05095After 24 hours, this is what it looks like. Set the topping aside and flip the salmon over, replacing the topping on the skin side of the salmon, rewrap with the plastic wrap and top with the weights.

DSC05101Allow to sit in fridge for one more day…I couldn’t wait to try it as planned, three days and tried it at the end of two days…and it was good…so good…Just wash off the salt and pat dry. Cut into thin silky slices…

DSC05103The next morning, more like afternoon- about 18 hours later and it tasted no different than the night before…meaning more gravlax….sooner than later…Pair with crispbread, bagels or a good crusty loaf of bread – shhhmeared with whipped cream cheese and adorned with capers, radish slices, thin onion rings with creamy sweet mustard on the side and you’ve got a great appetizer for the holidays or any special occasion.

DSC05108And so, that concludes the great gravlax experiment. Can’t wait for next time…

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Obsessed: Pink Himalayan Salt

Obsession is…well, maybe a bit extreme but I am in love with this salt! Is it TMI if I tell you that I like to let a few course grains dissolve on my tongue, one by one? Maybe it is TMI but it’s too late now. Maybe I am deficient in something? This salt is abundant in many trace minerals and I’m sure that my craving for it is just my body trying to helping me out. But let’s forget about my recently developed salt dissolving habit and get back to pure flavor making magic!

I add it to everything I make and it makes everything taste better, way better. Bland chicken salad? Not anymore, when you add a dash of this. I look at this salt as magic dust for food, enhancing everything from grilled steaks to plain green leaf lettuce salads tossed with olive oil. Don’t forget everything else in between from homemade french fries to warm salted caramel brownies. It’s a simple ingredient that my kitchen just can’t do without! It’s a great salt to have in the pantry or at the table. (Or in my case, a few grains around, just to snack on. Lol.) Enjoy taking your favorite dishes to new levels with this pink magic dust.

White Chocolate Bark: 2 Ways

Do you ever get excited about a food product? Or is it just me? lol. I saw a box of Maldon smoked sea salt at a food/cooking supply shop and was so excited, as soon as I found it, I started walking, maybe even skipping, towards the register and midway, I thought to myself, “I came here for something!?” What that something was, I managed to forget with the box of smoked sea salt in my hands, sweaty hands at that, lol. So all these ideas came to my mind and this is one of them, or two of them. For all you salty and sweet fans, you have a flaky smoked salt with the bite of fresh ground black pepper and a raw pistachio bark and a crushed spicy gingersnap cookie and smooth caramel bark with flecks of smoked sea salt on it. Hope you enjoy! Happy weekend everyone!

  
  • 1/2 pound bulk white chocolate, (you can use milk or even dark, I was in the mood for a super sweet chocolate.)
  • raw pistachio nuts, (not roasted)
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • smoked sea salt
  • 7 caramel squares
  • 1 ginger snap cookie

Begin by chopping up the chocolate, so it melts easier. Using a double-broiler or a pot with a metal bowl over it, pour the chocolate in, using a spatula to stir and speed along the melting process. Less water is always better when using the second method and use a pot holder, to handle the metal bowl, it can get pretty hot. Have a large cookie sheet set up with a sheet of parchment paper on it. Once the chocolate is melted, pour the chocolate in one block or two, depending on if are making the chocolate in one way or both. (Spreading out to an 1/8th of an inch or thicker if you like.) If making both barks, keep a small space between the poured chocolate.

Below is the cause of my sweaty palms! Are yours sweaty too or is it just me? If you want to make your own smoked sea salt, which can be fun, here is a recipe (I used some of it on the gingersnap & caramel bark) but just a warning, make it on a really sunny day while you use the grill. Brrr…

Begin the fun, sprinkle the pistachios, fresh ground black pepper and sea salt on the chocolate!

Melt the caramels with a drop of water in a heavy bottomed pot, stirring with a spatula until melted. Drop spoonfuls of caramel on the chocolate and sprinkle the crushed gingersnap cookie over the chocolate and caramel. Finish it off with a sprinkling of smoked sea salt. Let the bark cool in the fridge, until firm about 15 minutes. Break up the chocolate and enjoy!

Cedar Smoked Sea Salt

A rushed day, sometimes equals a rushed dinner. And sometimes those are the best, a simple thrown together meal like a warm, soft, yet crusty baguette topped with good unsalted butter and smoked sea salt. This can be a really nice appetizer also, especially when you serve the salt left right on the plank, so everyone can salt their own buttered piece of baguette. The smoking gives the salt an ever so delicate aroma of  cedar and mellows out the sting of the salt. This is perfect to use instead of your usual sea salt to give your food a slightly delicate smoky flavor. Enjoy!

  • 1 cedar plank
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt

Have your plank submerged in water, for a minimum of an hour. (Don’t forget that your planks are reusable.) Heat up your grill to about 500 degrees. Have your grill gloves on, a water filled spray bottle, and long tongs nearby. Take extra caution when smoking the salt, they start popping, once they get really hot. I would suggest wearing safety goggles, better safe than sorry. You can crush some of the salt if you would like smaller pieces. Place your plank on the grill for 3 minutes, flip and place your salt on it, in one thin layer. Occasionally, stir with a fork. Smoke for 10 minutes or longer. If the edges start burning, spritz with water. Keeping an eye on the plank is best, as it can catch fire easily. Please take all precautions necessary. Once your salt is smoked, take the heat off, but you can let the plank sit in the grill, until it cools. Remove with tongs and store in glass container to retain flavor.

Pan-Roasted Sea Salt with Rosemary & Dried Mushrooms

There are times that I just crave SALT! And this time, I really wanted to experiment with flavoring the salt. And thought that adding fresh rosemary, lemon zest and dried mushrooms would make it interesting. And it did, making it smoky and adding a depth to the salt. Here is a list of what you need…

  • 3/4 cup Mediterranean sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • zest of one lemon
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried mushrooms, I used what I had on hand, (champignon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 5 cloves
  • a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes, or more depending how much you like

 I was super excited getting the ingredients and then I realized, I don’t have a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder. So almost in a barbarian style, I started crushing the salt with a wooden spoon, I really went at it!  I imagined being in Tuscany, sun beating down on me as I crushed my salt by hand, but my fantasy got interrupted as salt spilled to the floor, ruining my daydream. To your salt, you want to add your chopped rosemary, fresh ground pepper, the lemon zest, the crushed red pepper flakes and crush and mix away, (great for getting frustrations out.) I imagine using a spice grinder would work better though, lol. (Our kitchen is really small, so I just have the bare essentials) Give your coriander seeds and cloves a good wack, not to totally crush them, just to open them up, to release their flavors, add to your salt with the mushrooms. Pour your salt in a pan and on high heat, stir your salt and the smell of the rosemary and cloves will be amazing! I kept it on the heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, and when cool, remove your mushrooms and cloves. Chop the dried mushrooms fine, or use a spice grinder and add back to your salt. Taste it and see how you like it, adding accordingly. I ended up adding some more fresh rosemary. Enjoy!



Still crushing…