My family have roots in Eastern Europe so I grew up with Gravad Lax, a cured salmon dish. It’s little lighter than smoked salmon and very easy to make. Because you are curing not cooking you must start off with very fresh fish. I usually fillet my own but get the fishmonger to do it for you if it’s easier. You could also buy a ready prepared fillet of salmon or salmon trout. Just run your finger down the fillet to feel if any bones are still intact, if so remove them (I have special fish tweezers but use you fingers if you don’t have any). It is essential for slicing that you retain the skin. This is a recipe that uses a ratio and it’s this; for each 450g of fish use 25g sugar and 25g salt. To give mine a luxuriously smoky finish I used some smoked salt I bought in France but Smoked Maldon sea salt will do just as well and this year for the very first time smoked sugar too. I saw a tweet about this lovely new product and contacted the producer who kindly sent me a tin to try. Made is small batches its described on the company website thus
“Handcrafted in Scotland by a kilted Highlander, Smoky Brae Smoked Sugar is lovingly cold smoked low and slow using a secret blend of hardwoods to achieve a unique rich full bodied SMOKY flavour to compliment cocktails, cooking and confection. The demerara cane sugar produces sweet caramel flavours“.
Its the first time I have come across smoked sugar and I love it. Plus it’s a versatile product which would go wonderfully on a cocktail glass ( something with a chocolate liqueur or Cointreau would be gorgeous) or use it on crème brûlée or in savoury dishes like me.
1 fillet of fresh salmon or salmon trout (skin intact)
25g of sugar and 25g salt mixed to each 450g of fish
I large bunch chopped dill (optional)
Pat the fish dry with some paper towel and then place cut side down in a large dish big enough to lay it flat. Sprinkle over half the curing mix and rub it gently into the skin. Flip the fish over and rub the cut side with the remaining cure. If you are using dill press it onto the fish. Cover the dish in cling film and leave to cure for 48 hours turning every 12 hours. During this time the salt and sugar will draw the water out of the fish. Its perfectly safe to eat without cooking as the salt kills off any bacteria and removing the water also makes it an impossible environment for them to survive. After 48 hours remove the fish from the cure and discard the liquid. Place the fish on a chopping board and cut into very thin slices as required. This will last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator but will also freeze really well too.
I use Gravad Lax to make canapés for the festive season or when entertaining. If you want to keep the calories down use slices of fresh cucumber for a base and top with salmon and a garnish. I use seasoned crème fraiche, whole grain mustard, chives, thyme and fish roe amongst other things. I also love fresh flower seasoning from Uncle Roy’s Commestible Concoctions they look great plus they are dried so always in stock and ready to use.
If I serve the fish as a starter with some salad leaves I would use a whole grain mustard dressing and serve with some warm fresh brown bread.
Gravad Lax Dressing
2 tbsp wholegrain Dijon mustard
1 tbsp caster sugar or Smoky Brae smoked sugar
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix the ingredients together thoroughly and leave to stand allowing the sugar to dissolve in the liquids before using to garnish the salmon.
Please note whilst I was sent this product by the producer to review I only write and publish reviews of products I really like! Quite honestly anything smoked gets a big thumbs up from me.
You can buy this product online and it should be in some delicatessens and farm shops in Surrey soon.