Gravlaks with Onion Jalapeño Relish and Scallion Cilantro Cream

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Submitted by Sam_I_Am.


Gravlaks is Norwegian cured salmon. Normally it's buried in a salt cure for a few days. ("Lox" means salmon and "Grave" apparently means "to bury meat," just like in English.) The problem is that you get "hot spots", where there's too much of the salt cure and the fish gets tough. Cook's Illustrated came up with a cure for this problem (pun intended), with an onion juice brine instead of salt burial. It's a lot faster than the dry cure, too.

  • 4 Red Onions
  • 1 C Kosher Salt
  • 3/4 C Sugar
  • 1 T White Pepper
  • 1 bunch Dill
  • 3lb Salmon Fillet

Skin and halve the onions so they'll fit in the food processor and take 'em for a spin.



Pour the slush onto cheesecloth and press out all the liquid. I had to stir the contents a few times to get out all the moisture. When you're done squeezing, you're left with a knob of onion pulp that looks eerily like a single pasty onion. Like the Ghost Of Onions Past.


You'll get a few cups of juice. This method is also a good way to make home-made Mace; you've got every bit of the cry-juice from those onions (except for the toxic cloud that escaped the food processor...)


I've got a great hippy butcher/fish-monger. She gets me fresh, organic, free-range, well-fed meat that comes from a good home and respectable parents. Get 2 salmon fillets. (I made enough for Saturday's app as well Sunday's brunch. You could probably halve this recipe.)


Make a slice just below the tail, grab the end with one hand, and pull the skin tight. With the other hand, slide a boning knife along the skin, slowly cutting the skin from the fish. (I don't have a boning knife; I used a carving knife.) If you're super bad-ass, you'll get the skin off in one piece.


Take the onion juice, salt, sugar, pepper, and 2/3 of the dill. Chop the dill coarsley, including stems. Mix it all together.

Everybody knows it's important to taste things as you cook, so make sure to give this a sip.


Bag the fish with the brine and press out all the air you can. I had to cut one of the fillets to get it to fit. Place another pan on top and weigh it down with cans. Refrigerate for 16 hours. (The cure method takes days.)


Afterwards, remove the fish and pat dry. Mince the rest of the dill and pack it into the flesh of the fish. Any salmon you're not going to eat now, wrap in parchment paper and bag. (Use new bags. These are briney.)


Onion Jalapeño Relish

  • 2 White onions
  • 2 Jalapeños
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 1/4 C Sugar
  • 1/4 C Red Wine Vinegar

For the hot relish, finely chop the onions and sweat them in olive oil. Add the jalapeños and pepper, also finely chopped.


When everything's cooked through, add the sugar and vinegar and cook 5 minutes more. Move to a bowl to cool.


Scallion Cilantro Cream

  • 1 C Sour Cream
  • 1 Scallion
  • 1 T Cilantro

For a savory/cool cream to counter the sweet/hot relish, mince the entire scallion & the cilantro and mix with the cream.



  • 3 T Gin
  • 1 T Vermouth
  • 3 Pearl Onions
  • Ice

Shake gin & vermouth with ice. Strain into martini glass and add onions. Serve with appetizer, because otherwise you're drinking basically pure booze on an empty stomach.


Serve on Kavli, a Norwegian cracker. (I called it a "Norwegian cracker" when talking to a Norwegian friend, and he honestly didn't know what I meant. Then said "OH! You mean KAVLI!" I guess it's a 'crispbread'.)