Apr 24, 2011


Gravlax originated in medieval Scandinavia as a lightly salted, pressed form of salmon that was preserved by fermentation and had a strong smell.  By the 18th century, it had evolved into a lightly salted and pressed but unfermented dish.  This new gravlax had a subtle flavor, a dense, silken texture that makes it possible to cut very thin slices, and a glistening, translucent appearance.  This refined version of gravlax has become popular in many countries. 

Modern recipes for gravlax call for widely varying amounts of salt, sugar and time.   Fresh dill is now the standard flavoring, probably a domestic replacement for the original pine needles, which are a delightful alternative.  The salt, sugar and flavoring are sprinkled evenly over all the surfaces of the salmon fillets, the fillets are weighted down, and the container refrigerated for one to four days.  The weighting provides intimate contact between flash and flavourings, presses excess fluid from the fish, compacts the flesh.  Salt dissolves the major contracting protein myosin in the muscle fibers, and thus gives the flesh its compact tenderness.  

--  from McGee on Food and Cooking

Sudden sunshine makes it almost summer.  Salmon goes into salt again, for something cool to build lunches around.   Salt, sugar, spices, basically the same recipe as before.   Tinned tomatoes and beans squash the fillets in the fridge, until the fish transforms into translucent orange.  

Dissolved myosin indeed.  I still want to try the pine needles.


Marie said...


Also,try gin.

jvdh said...

I wanted to but -- unlikely as this sounds -- I didn't have any alcohol at hand. I was considering cider for a few minutes, but eventually settled for a dry cure.

Koek! said...

I've always wanted to try this, but just haven't plucked up the courage yet... One day, one day.