Recipe: Vicki Ravlich-Horan | Photography: Ashlee deCaires
Luxurious yet simple to make, gravlax takes uncomplicated ingredients, like salt and sugar, and time to create a lavish dish which, thinly sliced, can be served as a canape on blinis, on your eggs bene for a real treat or as part of a sumptuous buffet.
The secret is to the ratio of salt and sugar to salmon. You want it to be 25% salt and 25% sugar to the weight of the salmon. Using these ratios, you can cure any size of salmon with ease. The recipe below is based on a 1kg side of salmon.
2 tbsp white peppercorns
250g rock salt
fresh dill, roughly chopped
1kg salmon, bones removed and skin on
Crush peppercorns with the side of a knife (or roughly grind using mortar and pestle) then combine them with the salt, sugar and dill.
Place two large pieces of cling wrap (slightly overlapping) on a large oven tray. You are going to lay the salmon and wrap it up in this so the amount of cling film you need will depend on the size of your salmon.
Spread half the salt mixture where you are going to place the salmon.
Place salmon, skin side down on this and then spread the remaining salt mixture on the top half of the salmon.
Wrap completely with cling wrap. Place a chopping board or another oven tray on top and weight it down (tins are perfect).
Refrigerate for 36 hours, turning each 12 and removing any liquid that has seeped out.
Unwrap the salmon and rinse. Pat dry and return to the fridge for 3–12 hours uncovered.
Before slicing, sprinkle over more dill.
Just before serving, slice thinly on an angle, not cutting through the skin (as you don’t want to eat this).
You can store any uneaten gravlax, wrapped in cling film, for up to two weeks.
Note – Cling film is, unfortunately, the best tool for this job. For someone who avoids using as much single-use plastic as I can, this is one of those exceptions. If you have an alternative that has worked for you, please let us know!
Baked Baby Potatoes
This might seem like an extravagance, baking potatoes in a kilo or so of salt, but the result is crunchy-skinned, flavoursome potatoes with fluffy centres. And I reuse the salt for next time or in other dishes.
The recipe, if you can call it that, is simple! Lay a bed of rock salt on the bottom of a baking dish, place potatoes on top and cover with more salt. Bake in a moderate to hot oven until a knife inserted in one of the potatoes meets soft flesh. This will be approx. an hour, depending on the size of your potatoes.
I chop generous amounts of rosemary or thyme and add this to my salt for extra flavour.
It’s important you use potatoes with their skin on and don’t chop them as the exposed flesh will take up too much of the salt.
Rock salt is the best salt to use when you are baking potatoes in salt or curing salmon as the large crystals stop the final result being too salty.
Iodised salt may also turn the salmon a brown colour.