However you want to spell gravlax is fine by me as long as the end product is delicious cured salmon. I have been making my own lox for the past couple of years and one common ingredient that I am not a fan of is dill. When I cure salmon I will go for tarragon, orange, and anise before the dill. One technique that I feel is key to know when curing gravadlax is the ratio of salt and sugar. Traditionally, you would use more sugar than salt, which will yield a softer flesh. Use equal parts sugar and salt, you will get a much firmer flesh. My preference for gravlaks is a firmer flesh, so I tend to use equal parts and sometimes even a little less sugar. The type of sugar will also affect the final product. Brown sugar will give you a nice molasses flavor that would go great with cinnamon and cloves around the holidays. Honey and palm sugars are great in the summer for their fruity and floral notes that would go great with elderflowers and lemon in the cure.
For this post I have done a tarragon and honey cure with a touch of anise seed and crushed red pepper for some heat.
6# Side of Salmon, Skin on
2C Packed Tarragon Leaves
6T Sea Salt
2T Black Pepper
1T Crushed Red Pepper
1T Anise Seed
- Rinse and pat dry your side of salmon.
- Using a very sharp knife, score the skin side of the salmon, from belly to back, about 6 times down the whole side, be careful not to cut too deep, you should just be able to see the flesh. Penetrating the skin will help the salmon cure more evenly.
- In a sautee pan, combine the red pepper and anise seed, toast until fragrant. You will know its fragrant when the smell of the pepper makes you cough uncontrollably.
- Combine all of the remaining ingredients except the honey and pulse in a food processor. Place mix in bowl and add honey, mix well.
- Apply a thin layer of the cure on the skin and make sure to pack the slits on the skin side full of cure.
- Flip the salmon over and rub the remaining cure evenly onto the flesh.
- Wrap well with plastic and refrigerate for 48 hours.
2 Days After.
- Check the thick side of the salmon for firmness.
- Usually after two days the middle section will be perfect but the head side of the salmon might be more soft. I personally like the firmer portion because it will have more flavor from the cure. The tail will be very salty and and firm, I use this in soups.
- If it is done to your liking, rinse the salmon and pat dry with paper towels.
- If you choose to cold smoke the salmon from here, place the salmon in your fridge uncovered for 12-24 hours, to develop a pellicile. The following day, cold smoke for 1.5 hours then let the smoke settle before removing the salmon from the smoker.
- Otherwise slice and enjoy! Always remember “Thin to Win”, you want to see your knife while you are slicing the lox. The best way to do this is to put the salmon in the freezer for an hour or two to firm up the flesh.
See what I made with the Lox!