Salmon Gravlax

My “Uncle” Michel, a French-American chef formerly based in Kuala Lumpur, shared his recipe for Salmon Gravlax with my Mom. I hung around just to take pictures and taste-test. Gravlax is a traditional Scandinavian method for preparing salmon and reducing spoilage which used to be done by burying the fish in the ground (literally gravlax translates to “buried salmon”). As has often been the case throughout history, necessary means for preservation of food has yielded delicious results. So while we no longer have to bury our salmon in the ground, we still stick to the traditional preparations because they’re just so darn good.

This is a simple enough dish to prepare: a side of salmon is cured in the fridge overnight in salt and sugar, wrapped in plastic underneath some weight. Then, wash the seasonings off, smear with whole grain mustard, and finish with chopped fresh dill. After another twenty-four hours, it’s ready. The most difficult thing, of course, is having to wait two entire days. Not everyone has such patience, but believe me, this is worth it. We sliced the salmon a bit too thick, though, and not at an angle. But hey, it tasted great!

I tried pairing this with a Hitachino Nest White Ale, but somehow, things just seemed off. Maybe the coriander notes from the White Ale did not mix well with the mustard and dill of the salmon. Also, having been cured, the salmon wasn’t quite as oily as it would have been if prepared some other way, say smoked or cooked. Maybe I should have gone with my first instinct and tried a good Tripel like Chimay White.

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