Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gravlax from the Minimalist

Years ago there used to be a wonderful restaurant just down the road from where I lived in West Hollywood called Scandia.  Just west of Doheny Blvd., it was one of those places that gave the feeling you were surrounded by Hollywood history and indeed you were! 

I loved sitting in the huge red leather chairs; so comfortable you just knew you’d be staying a long while and not care that you were forty years younger than most of the patrons!  I also loved that one actually dressed for Scandia; no matter that everyone in LA was relaxed and casual, at Scandia men were required to wear coats and ties.

I always started my meal with Gravlax described on their menu as ‘the great salmon of the north cured in the old Viking way.”  This cured salmon dish is exquisitely simple, so tender it practically melts in your mouth and brilliant served as is on toast with just a few drops of lemon or with a light tangy dill sauce.

Now, I’ve found just the perfect recipe for Gravlax that rivals the dish I used to enjoy at Scandia.  It is from the Minimalist and it is so easy anyone can now serve Gravlax as good as one of the greatest LA restaurants of all time!  These days I'm serving it as an appetizer with lemon and toast or as a starter salad.


Time: 10 minutes, plus 24 to 36 hours' refrigeration

1 cup salt

2 cups sugar

1 bunch dill, stems and all, chopped

1 2- to 3-pound fillet of salmon, pin bones removed.

1. Mix together the salt, sugar and dill. Place the salmon, skin side down, on a large sheet of plastic wrap. Cover the flesh side of the salmon with the salt mixture, making sure to coat it completely. (There will be lots of salt mix; just pile it on.)

2. Wrap the fish well. If the temperature is below 70 degrees, and it is not too inconvenient, let it rest outside the refrigerator for about 6 hours, then refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours more. Otherwise, refrigerate immediately for about 36 hours.

3. Unwrap the salmon, and rinse off the cure. Dry, then slice on the bias.

Yield: at least 12 servings.

For dill sauce:
2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
6 tablespoons virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons sour cream
6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill  
Mix the mustard, sugar, and vinegar in a bowl.
Beat in the oil a little at a time until well blended.
The sauce will thicken rapidly and must be stirred vigorously.
Finally, add the sour cream and plenty of finely chopped dill.