Gravlax with a Twist

Blueberry & Coriander Gravlax with Quick Pickles

Gravlax is something I only think to make a couple of times a year, and then kick myself for not having it at least monthly. It’s incredibly simple to make — the only difficulty is leaving enough refrigerator space for a few days’ curing time — it keeps well and for much longer than you’re likely to have it around, and it’s impressive enough to serve at parties or holiday gatherings. I’m the only one in the house who’ll enjoy gravlax in its standard dill-heavy format, so when I came across a recipe for blueberry-and-coriander gravlax in my weekly Taste email, I jumped on the opportunity to share it with Gil (and with you as well, since I decided to break my blogging fast just to tell you about it).

It’s a treat in every way. I mean, just look at it. They say you eat first with your eyes, and that’s surely true here, especially if you like bold, lively color on your plate. The texture is firm and the flavor is subtly sweet with zesty pops from the coriander and lemon. I honestly can’t gush enough about it.

But wait, there’s more! Darcie Hunter of Gourmet Creative came over to style this up for the cuttingboard.com photo contest we’re entering (#cutthecheese2017, ya’ll!) and brought over some of her homemade pickles to pair with it. She also whipped up a quick horseradish-and-sour-cream topping, and the combo of the gravlax with the pickles and horseradish was outrageously good. Check out Darcie’s pickle recipe at her blog and our behind-the-scenes photo on my Instagram feed, showing off my new cucoloris baby.

If you’re looking for a new spin on an old classic, do give this gravlax recipe a try! You can find it here, and while you’re at it, sign up for their emails. You’ll be happy you did.

Field to Feast: Dill

Fresh dill

When Kasha suggested dill as an ingredient for this week’s Field to Feast challenge, I was stumped. It doesn’t grow well on my deck, so I never have it around and therefore haven’t really experimented with it beyond the occasional pickles or recipes here and there that call for it. So perhaps this post is a little uninspired (salmon & dill? yaaaaawn), but I’ve really been wanting to make my own gravlax for a while and this seemed the perfect opportunity.

Gravlax | Minimally Invasive

I turned to the internet, as always, and most of the recipes I found were pretty similar — salt, sugar, dill and perhaps some spices to shake things up. Keeping with my preference of staying simple the first go-round, I chose to follow Mark Bittman’s recipe with a beautiful Copper River salmon filet I picked up at Fairway.

Gravlax | Minimally Invasive

I don’t know what scared me off of this for so many years because honestly, it couldn’t have been simpler to make. Removing the pin bones was the most tedious part, but with the help of a dedicated pair of tweezers, it took all of three minutes. Then I piled on the cure mix, sprinkled it with a little vodka, and packed on the chopped dill. After that, it’s just a matter of wrapping it in plastic, putting it in a dish covered with a flat surface (I used a tiny cutting board), and weighing it down with cans. And waiting. After two days, a lot of liquid had been extruded into the dish. I unwrapped the salmon, removed a little of the cure, and sliced off a few pieces to try. It was salmon flavor x10, lightly cured and silky on the tongue. I couldn’t be happier with the results of my first experiment. More to follow with added spices…

Gravlax | Minimally Invasive

 

Grilled salmon with blueberry salsa

“Your eyes are bigger than your stomach” was one of my dad’s favorite sayings — which never got old, by the way — when I was a kid. Of course, by the time I hit my teen years, that saying was defunct, as I became an eating machine and the “hollow leg” jokes started (which also never got old).

I still have issues with my eyes being too big, mostly when I visit the Ringwood Farmers’ Market on weekends. I know I won’t be cooking much during the week, but I just can’t help myself with all of that gorgeous summer produce on display. Surely I’ll find a way to use blueberries and cilantro and beets and tuscan kale (and about 10 other things) before next weekend, right?

Well, not always, or even usually. But last night I was determined to at least make a dent in last weekend’s haul, so I started researching recipes for salmon and blueberries and kept coming upon one that sounded promising and had the benefit of only requiring a quick stop at Garden of Eden for a jalapeno pepper and a grapefruit (both easily toted on the bus).

I gotta say, this salsa rawked! Assuming frozen blueberries were recommended for a reason, I used about 1/2 cup of frozen and supplemented with about a cup of fresh, but otherwise stuck to the recipe. I’d like to replace the grapefruit with pineapple next time to sweeten it up a bit more, but this version was so good Gil and I dug into the leftovers with a spoon.

I grilled the salmon (and the asparagus, now that I think about it) with nothing more than a slick of olive oil to keep them from sticking to the grate, but the blueberry salsa and a sprinkling of fleur de sel knocked ’em out of the park.

I’ll keep the fruit salsa solution in mind for this weekend. Pork loin with peach and basil salsa doesn’t sound half bad, and I think they’re still pretty good after only a week in the fridge…

recipe after the jump

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Bad photo, good fish

salmon.jpg

I’m not usually the most pleasant person during my commute — not that I’m particularly unpleasant, but I typically don’t go out of my way to socialize with other people on the bus. In fact, I find it really annoying when I’m sitting near people who won’tjustshutupfortheloveofgodandlettherestofustakeanaporread, so I try to do unto others, etc. But one evening, I happened to sit next to a woman who, like me, was reading and dog-earing a cooking magazine; well, one thing led to another and before I knew it we were trading recipes and sharing stories.

Gawd, I can be SO annoying.

I’ve thought about her often in the months since — how she doesn’t bake bread anymore since a sudden onset of psoriatic arthritis left her in near-constant pain, about her love of Italian food, and of her passion for finding healthy recipes her brother can test, given his own health woes. One of the recipes she shared with me was for salmon with an orange marinade and smoked paprika that sounded divine, even though, she warned me sotto voce, “It’s a McCormick’s recipe.” It slipped my mind until I saw that very same recipe in an ad in this month’s Gourmet magazine, so I gave it a try last night before I could forget about it again.

Gil defrosted the salmon we’d bought on our last Trader Joe’s run and started the marinade before I got home, so all I had to do was assemble the dry rub (though I didn’t use McCormick’s spices), pat down the salmon with it, and set it in the oven to roast for 10 minutes. While that was cooking, I quickly sautéed some baby spinach in olive oil and garlic, and dinner was on the table in about 20 minutes.

I guess sometimes it pays to venture out of my circumscribed little world. The routine of commuting can be wearying and it’s always easier to conserve energy than to make a connection, but I’m happy that at least in this one instance, it really paid off. The salmon had wonderful depth of flavor. The ingredients didn’t mingle together so much as wash over the tongue in waves; the bright, sunny citrus gave way to sugar and smoky paprika which morphed into a puff of cinnamon before leaving only the flavor of the salmon behind. I’ll keep this recipe handy for quick, healthy dinners.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Bad photo, good fish”