I love making gravlax because it is such a versatile dish. The cured salmon slices can be used to make elegant hors d’oeuvres, they can be served with a few simple sides to make a nice cool lunch on a hot day, the scraps are great in an omelette for breakfast, and being “cured-but-not-cooked” makes gravlax perfect for coaxing a timid diner into trying more adventurous raw dishes. Most recipes call for fresh dill and while that works just fine, using dill pollen creates explosive “pops” of dill flavor that are hard to imitate with other methods. Using some beet powder in the sugar mixture adds a beautiful reddish hue to the outer crust of the filet, and the transition from bright salmon orange to deep beet red allows a creative cook to arrange the slices into stunning displays.
Rinsing the cure off after 24 hours instead of 48 or 72 leaves the fish raw toward the skin side. This can create the greatest contrast in colors, but the trade off is the fish won’t keep nearly as long as if it’s fully cured. Of course, the usual caveats about consuming raw seafood apply, too. So this summer when you come home from your fishing trips, try a salmon recipe that just can’t be beet!