12.08.2011

Cured Salmon (or Gravlax) with Grapefruit

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Not everyone is about raw fish. But I am. If you're finicky, this might be a good post to skip. However, if you do enjoy cured fish -- weather smoked, pickled, salted or dried -- pay attention. This is a simple, and delicious recipe, sure to impress your loved ones and yourself. Because, let me tell you, I was impressed.

I decided to try this recipe and serve it as an appetizer at the husband's "30 dinners." Since new recipes can be tricky, I tested this one out, just to make sure Bon Appetit did not lie to me about its deliciousness. I'm happy to report, it didn't. The recipe was so good, I made just a few alterations, and only out of necessity.

Curing fish removes some of its liquid, and infuses the fish with flavor. It's been done for ages (meaning, I'm too lazy to look up actual history on this, but I know it's been around for a long time) to preserve fish. A few things I'd recommend. Buy really fresh fish. Spend the extra money. You're not cooking it, so just play it safe. Use a good knife to slice your fish. It takes a bit of practice to get thin and even slivers.

The process only takes about 15 minutes. Maybe even less. The important thing is to plan ahead, as the fish needs at least three days in the fridge. After it's done, you can serve it all fancy style on rye with creme fresh, as suggested in the original recipe. You can use it to make bagel sandwiches. Or you can just eat it straight. We did all three.

I would definitely make this again. It was tastier than any store-bought smoked salmon I've had.nd now that I feel comfortable with the process, I'm excited to experiment with some other flavors, like rosemary.
Gravlax with Grapefruit
Courtesy Bon Appetit, October 2011

1 2-pound side of arctic char, skin on, pinbones removed (if like most people, and me, you can't find acrtic char, use salmon)
3 tablespoons plus 2 tsp. finely grated white or pink grapefruit zest (I used pink)
3 tablespoons kosher salt plus more
2 tablespoons muscovado sugar or light brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp. dried whole green peppercorns, crushed
1 tablespoon juniper berries, well crushed
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1/2 cup minced fresh dill, divided
Crackers or toasts (preferably rye)

Place arctic char skin side down on a large piece of plastic wrap. Mix 3 Tbsp. grapefruit zest, 3 Tbsp. salt, both sugars, 1 Tbsp. crushed green peppercorns, and crushed juniper berries in a small bowl; sprinkle mixture over fish, spreading evenly and pressing gently so spices adhere. Wrap plastic tightly around fish, then wrap with another large sheet of plastic. Gently poke 24 small holes through plastic (not fish) on both sides of fish with a thin skewer or the tip of a sharp knife to allow juices to escape. Put fish on a rimmed baking sheet. Top with another rimmed baking sheet; weigh it down with two 15-oz. canned goods. Refrigerate for 2 days, turning fish after 1 day.

Remove canned goods and top baking sheet. Unwrap and discard plastic, keeping cure intact. Rewrap in clean plastic and poke holes in plastic as before. Place in a clean resealable plastic bag; refrigerate, skin side up. Chill for 1 more day. Gently scrape off cure.

Whisk crème fraîche, 2 tsp. dill, and remaining 1 tsp. crushed green peppercorns in a small bowl. Season with salt. Thinly slice gravlax on a diagonal and serve on crackers. Top with créme fraîche and garnish with re-maining 2 tsp. grapefruit zest and 1 tsp. dill.

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