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. So this summer when you come home from your fishing trips, try a salmon recipe that just can’t be beet!
Summer Salmon Gravlax with Beet Powder & Dill Pollen
In a small bowl, mix the salt, sugar, and beet powder.
Sprinkle the flesh of the fish with the dill pollen.
In a shallow dish large enough to hold the fish, make a bed with 1/3 of the salt and sugar mixture. Lay the salmon, skin side down, in the dish, on the bed of salt/sugar. Cover the fish the the remaining mixture, pressing it gently into the flesh.
Drizzle with the liquor (if using).
Cover the fish tightly with plastic wrap and place a light weight on top of it. A smaller dish with a few cans of soup works great for an easy weight.
Allow 24-72 hours in a refrigerator to cure. When ready, rinse the cure off and pat the fish dry. Slice thin and serve.
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.
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