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.