Beet Cured Salmon (Gravlax)

I have been strategizing as to what we can eat that does not warm up the apartment leaving us with our t-shirts sticking to us. Because when I do end up like that it leads to us sitting in front of our one fan to cool off with my hair curling to a point of no return.  The temperature out has not been too bad. In fact I have truly been enjoying the summer afternoons out and about. The sky has been the loveliest shade of blue. Yet, I have learned that it is only getting warmer.  What is a girl supposed to do? Enjoying the warm summer afternoons out and about.

I ended up curing some salmon this past week. There is no heat involved in that!  I got the recipe from a book I picked up while we were in London. It is called “Salt Sugar Smoke” by Diana Henry. If you have not guessed, it is all about preserving in every shape and form. I have loved reading it and putting it to use; so far the recipes from it have been great. The recipe for preserving the salmon really peaked my interest and part of the reason why I purchased the book to begin with.  You see it involves lots of dill, sugar, salt, and beets. Yes, beets! You mix it all together and pat it along the salmon. You wrap it up and place something a bit heavy on it and let it rest (cure) for a few days in the refrigerator. You then uncover it and viola – it is ready!!!

Getting the salmon ready for its curing.

Salmon after curing.

Could it be any easier? Other than planning ahead, I don’t think so. How to serve the cured salmon was now the question. I decided on a traditional rout of bagels, cream cheese, capers, onion, cucumber, and lettuce. But why I opted to make my own bagels in this heat? I really have no answer other than I wanted the challenge. So in the late afternoon I was boiling water to make bagels. The kitchen grew humid and my hair’s natural curl crept in to make an appearance. After boiling them you bake them. Bake them in an oven preheated to 425 degrees. (So much for that easy and cool dinner.) The bagels were delicious, but the overall recipe needs more tweaking. I will be doing that once things cool down outside. Until then I hope you enjoy the salmon recipe. The beets are quite mild in flavor but lend their intensity of color. It is the dill you taste overall with an undertone of sweetness followed by a hint of saltiness. Quite perfect for a summer evening, as we sit in front of the fan and enjoy our dinner.  Other than the obvious, it is great and impressive to grace a table for a brunch. If you end up giving the recipe a try feel free to eat the cured salmon any way you wish, but believe me – it just might be best in this heat to go out and purchase the bagels.

Plated Salmon, with all the fixings!

Beet Cured Salmon (serves 14)

*recipe from the book- Salt Sugar Smoke by, Diana Henry

2 lbs 12 oz of Salmon, tail pieces in two halves (filleted but skin left on)

6 tbsp of Vodka

4 ½ oz of Sugar

3 1/3 oz of Sea Salt

2 tbsp of Black Pepper, coarsely ground

1 large bunch of Dill, roughly chopped

14 oz of Beets. peeled and grated

First, check your salmon to be sure it is clean and no pin bones remain. You can check this by running your fingers over the salmon to see if you feel any bones remaining. If so you can remove them with a tweezers.

Next, line a large platter or dish with foil. (I used a rimmed baking sheet.) With your salmon halves skin side down rub the flesh evenly with the vodka. In a bowl place your sugar, sea salt, dill, black pepper, and beets. Toss it all together well.  Lay one half of your salmon skin side down on the foil. Top it with your dill and beet mixture and pat it down. Place the other half of your salmon over it, flesh side down (facing the dill and beet mixture). Wrap your foil up and around your salmon halves to completely cover it. You are looking to overall cover the salmon with the foil. If it does not cover it completely don’t worry. You can use more foil to cover it. Place the foil covered salmon on your dish or platter and place a weight on it (like a can or two of food); you are just looking to “weight it down” slightly. Place it in the refrigerator and rotated it every day or so replacing the weight on top with each turn. Some liquid might spill out, that is fine and normal. Just drain it off.

Finally, after about 4 days to a week you can remove the salmon from the refrigerator. Unwrap it carefully and remove all the dill-beet mixture. Once you scrape it clean you are ready to slice and serve. When slicing run a very sharp knife along the flesh and cutting it in thin pieces, away from the skin.

***Note: if not using right away the cured salmon can be wrapped tightly in plastic and frozen for up to a month. Defrost in the refrigerator before slicing and serving.