Whisky Cured Gravlax (Lox)

I was pretty bad for a while about posting here, but I didn’t stop cooking, which means there are a bunch of really delicious things I made… but I don’t remember just exactly how I made them anymore. :/ I really ought to try harder to write down the things I am pleased with. On that note, here is my gravlax recipe before it is lost to time and the eccentricities of my memory! Hopefully next time I make it I will remember to take pictures and add them in.

You’ll need saran wrap, one large glass casserole dish, and one slightly smaller glass casserole dish (Yes, glass is best; metal or plastic are liable to take on the fish smell and I don’t know about you but I’d be sad next time I made tiramisu and got a salmon flavor in it!) You’ll also need a chunk of skin-on salmon, as fresh as possible; about four cups of salt; two cups of sugar; two cups of brown sugar; two oranges; a couple packages of fresh dill; and at least two shots of smoky whisky. More might be better. 😉

Set your bigger dish on the counter and drape it with saran wrap. Lay overlapping strips both lengthwise and widthwise; you’ll be wrapping the fish in this eventually, so make sure you have plenty.

Mix the salt and both sugars in a big bowl. You can easily scale this up or down depending on the size of your salmon; you want about half salt and half sugar. Stir it up so it is evenly mixed, and pour half of it in a long pile down the middle of the casserole dish.

Thinly slice one of the oranges and lay the slices on top of the salt. Layer half of the fresh dill on top of the orange slices, and drizzle the whole shebang with a shot or so of the whisky. If you haven’t used the entire orange, squeeze from fresh juice on top, too.

Lay the salmon flesh side down on top of the salt, oranges, dill, and whisky; make sure all of the fish is resting on the layers of cure ingredients, and if necessary pick the fish back up and shift it around. If it isn’t touching the dry cure, it won’t cure properly and you’ll just have raw fish.

Now lay the rest of the dill on top of the fish. Thinly slice the other orange and lay those over the dill. Drizzle with a shot whisky (and a squeeze of fresh orange juice if you can) and cover with the remaining salt/sugar mixture.

Fold the saran wrap over and wrap it as tightly as you can. The goal is to press the cure and seasonings into the flesh of the salmon. Place the other casserole dish on top of the fish bundle and weight it down; I used three two-liter bottles of soda. Pop the whole thing in the fridge for 48 hours.

At the end of 48 hours, unwrap the fish. Discard the liquid in the dish, the oranges, the dill, the salt and sugar. Rinse the fish thoroughly. Like, really thoroughly, for a couple of minutes, in cold water. You want to get rid of any an all excess salt; trust me, there is plenty in it by now!

Get out a large platter or rinse and dry the big casserole dish. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels and put it on the plate or dish. Stick it back in the fridge and leave it, uncovered, overnight. This is supposed to allow the fish to dry out a little and also give time for the remaining salt to equalize throughout the meat. There will be surprisingly little smell, in my experience.

In the morning, use a VERY sharp knife to slice the fish, as thinly as possible, against the grain.

Viola, gravlax!

Once you have made it, you can mess with the proportions a bit and adjust it to your personal taste. If you like it saltier, make your dry cure 60/40 with more salt, and the reverse if you’d like it less salty or more sweet. You can also adjust the quantities of white sugar versus brown sugar, try different whiskies, add more orange or more dill… whatever you think would taste good to you. You can even get exotic and try different herbs or liquors; oooh, maybe it’d be good with lime and tequila!


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