I’ve always thought that gravlax should be translated as “gift from the Norse gods” – it’s the perfect party dish. It’s a fillet of salmon cured in a mixture of salt, sugar and herbs. After two to three days, the fish emerges silky, flavorful to its core and easy to slice. While gravlax is traditionally cured with dill, I like to make a bouquet of herbs, heavy on the dill but including mint and basil as well. And while a sweet mustard-dill sauce is the usual sauce to go with gravlax, I’ve tinkered here too: my sauce is made with yogurt, a bit of mayo, white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and yes, dill. It’s a bit tangier than the norm and perfect with the rich salmon. Serve on thinly sliced rye bread or crackers, and if you’ve got some pickled onions, add them to the platter.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 2bunches fresh dill, rinsed and dried
- 1bunch mint, rinsed and dried
- 1bunch basil, rinsed and dried
- ½cup sugar
- ⅓cup kosher or coarse salt
- 1salmon fillet (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds), center cut, with skin, rinsed and patted dry
- ½cup plain Greek yogurt
- 3tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 1tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 5tablespoons minced dill fronds
- Fine sea salt, to taste
- Whole-grain crackers or thin-sliced dark bread
- Pickled onions, optional
- Lemon wedges
Step 1Two to three days ahead of time, mix the herbs together, and use half of them to cover the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch square nonreactive pan. Mix the sugar and salt together. Using the point of a small knife, poke some holes in the skin side of the salmon, then rub the sugar-salt blend over both sides of the fish. Place it in the pan, and cover with the remaining herbs. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the fish (let it hang over the sides of the pan), top with a board or plate and then pile on some heavy cans to put even pressure on the salmon. Refrigerate for 2-3 days, turning the fish a couple of times a day.
Step 2Mix all the ingredients together, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Stir before using.
Step 3Scrape the herbs away from the salmon, and rinse the fish under cold running water; pat dry. Using a long, thin-bladed knife, cut the fish into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Arrange on a platter, and serve with the spread; crackers or bread; onions, if you’re using them; and lemon wedges. Spread the dill mixture on the crackers or over the fish — it’s good both ways — top with onion and finish with a squirt of lemon juice.