On Dasher, On Salmon?

My husband is Norwegian in  that  his father’s family came from Oslo and he spoke Norwegian when he was very young.  My strongest recollection of  Norway is a  day spent just outside Bergen visiting Edvard Grieg’s house. To reach the house, we scrambled over rocks  in the  pouring ran. Later, I found out that it rains almost every day in Bergen, undoubtedly great for the skin  but  probably a tad depressing day after day.  Grieg’s house, in Troldhagen just outside Bergen, has  now been heavily marketed. I went to a house sprinkled with memorabilia  including Grieg’s piano. Today’s visitors can visit a cafe, a multimedia center, a museum and even go to a concert if their timing is right.

I  started making gravlax for Christmas because of my husband’s Norwegian heritage and then it became a tradition. There are two equipment-based aspects. One is that the fish has to sit under heavy weight in the fridge for several days. We use marble slabs that spend the rest of the year quietly packed away.

The other equipment is a special knife my husband uses to slice the gravlax. It takes a long time to get the slices very thin and it can almost certainly be done with another kind of knife but this is the one we use, reserved for just this purpose.

The only tricky part of making gravlax  is  remembering to start a week before you plan to serve it.

GRAVLAX (The New York Times)

2 lbs. fresh salmon

1/4 cup regular table salt

2 Tbls. sugar

2 Tbls. chopped fresh dill

1 Tbls. bottled green peppercorns plus 1 Tbls of their liquid

1 Tbls each fresh tarragon, thyme and chevril (if you don’t have fresh, dried will do but fresh is better.)

2-3 Tbls. capers

Additional fresh dill for sauce and garnish

A week before you plan to serve it, buy 2 or more pounds fresh salmon. Select the thickest part of the fish and ask the fish-seller to remove the skin. At home, cut the pieces in two against the grain. Place one piece of salmon on a piece of foil larger enough to wrap it with foil to spare. Mix the salt, sugar and chopped dill. Rub both pieces of salmon all over front and back with this mixture. Cover one piece of fish with the other (if there are thicker and thinner ends, place a thick end over a thin one.). Add sprigs of dill between the two pieces of fish and on top; wrap up the foil, crimping the edges. Put wrapped fish on a plate in the fridge. After one day, turn the package over.

After two days, remove and unwrap fish. Keep the now droopy dill. Make a puree of the peppercorns, their liquid and the three herbs. Spread the puree all over the fish, put back the droopy dill and more fresh dill and re-wrap.. Put a cutting board or other flat surface on top and weight top. Return to the fridge for three days.

To serve, slice as thinly as possible on a diagonal. Arrange on a platter and garnish with fresh dill and capers. Serve with thin sliced black bread and gravlax sauce.

GRAVLAX SAUCE (Martha Stewart’s Entertaining)

4 Tbls Dijon mustard

1 Tsp dry mustard

3 Tbls. sugar

2 Tbls. white vinegar

1/3 cup light vegetable oil

3-4 Tbls. fresh dill, chopped fine

Combine mustard, sugar and vinegar in bowl or food processor. Add oil drop by drop until mixture thickens. Refrigerate until ready to use. Sauce keeps in fridge up to ten days.

We eat gravlax with other finger foods and drink Prosecco.

If you have a special holiday recipe, please share. Cheers.

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9 Responses to On Dasher, On Salmon?

  1. Peter Sour says:

    A favorite here in Sewickley is Chippewa Soup. as served at the Rolling Rock Club -Willy Daffinger-Chef.
    1/2 gal. tomato soup, 1/2 gal/ pea soup, celery, onions, carrots, bay leaf, curry, ham bone, 1 qt. heavy cream, sour cream (optional). Mix soups. Saute celery, onions, carrots, bay leaf and sharp curry to taste. Blend with soups and add ham bone.
    Bring to a boil, simmer for 30 minutes.
    Strain then add 1 quart heavy cream.
    Can be served hot or cold with a dollop of sour cream on top.
    We had this at sister-in-laws last evening – Keeps out the cold of these wintry days

  2. Roberta says:

    Hi Mari–Yum–I like Gravlax. Thx for sharing. Below is Marilyn Monroe stuffing I tried this Christmas–quite good and fun to make with the different ingredients.

    Adapted from “Fragments” by Marilyn Monroe (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; $30)

    Marilyn Monroe’s Stuffing Recipe Stars in a Remake (November 10, 2010)
    Time: 2 hours
    No garlic
    A 10-ounce loaf sourdough bread
    1/2 pound chicken or turkey livers or hearts
    1/2 pound ground round or other beef
    1 tablespoon cooking oil
    4 stalks celery, chopped
    1 large onion, chopped
    2 cups chopped curly parsley
    2 eggs, hard boiled, chopped
    1 1/2 cups raisins
    1 cup grated Parmesan
    1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts, pine nuts or roasted chestnuts, or a combination
    2 teaspoons dried crushed rosemary
    2 teaspoons dried crushed oregano
    2 teaspoons dried crushed thyme
    3 bay leaves
    1 tablespoon salt-free, garlic-free poultry seasoning (or 1 teaspoon dried sage, 1 teaspoon marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
    1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
    1 tablespoon pepper.
    1. Split the bread loaf in half and soak it in a large bowl of cold water for 15 minutes. Wring out excess water over a colander and shred into pieces.
    2. Boil the livers or hearts for 8 minutes in salted water, then chop until no piece is larger than a coffee bean.
    3. In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef in the oil, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat, so no piece is larger than a pistachio.
    4. In your largest mixing bowl, combine the sourdough, livers, ground beef, celery, onion, parsley, eggs, raisins, Parmesan and nuts, tossing gently with your hands to combine. Whisk the rosemary, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper together in a bowl, scatter over the stuffing and toss again with your hands. Taste and adjust for salt. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use as a stuffing or to bake separately as dressing.
    Yield: 20 cups, enough for one large turkey, 2 to 3 geese or 8 chickens.

    Good wishes, Roberta

  3. lynda Gould says:

    This is a wonderful gravlax recipe. I have been the beneficiary of Mari’s preparation and I highly and heartily recommend it.
    Happy holidays.

  4. marigold says:

    Ms Monroe was a woman of numerous talents. I read that she was a homebody who never got a real chance to make a home. Stuffing sounds great and worth a trying, for a turkey as I’ve never gotten close to attempting a goose! Thanks, Roberta

  5. marigold says:

    @lynda Gould
    Thanks for your appreciative thoughts, Lynda. Happy holidays to you.

  6. marigold says:

    @Peter Sour
    Would that someone was serving me this soup tonight as NYC is in mid-blizzard and leftover gravlax does not a meal make. This soup combo would certainly ward off the winter chill. Love to all.