This is my Mum’s recipe that we always have on Christmas day with crème fraiche and Russian blinis pancakes. But I also love this salmon year round – on toast for breakfast with grated horseradish or with a simple salad for lunch. It’s much simpler than it looks, so don’t feel daunted to give it a go.
2 equal-sized pieces of salmon or ocean trout fillets, skin on, about 750g
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup salt
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon crushed black pepper
1/3 cup Vodka or whisky
1 medium bunch dill
2 medium beetroot, coarsely grated
- Remove any protruding pin bones in the salmon with tweezers. In a small bowl combine the sugar, salt and pepper with lemon rind and vodka or whisky and set aside.
- Place about 1/4 of the dill on a ceramic dish in which the fish will just fit. Top with a third of the beetroot. Place one fillet, skin side down on the dill and beetroot. Rub the flesh with the sugar and salt mixture. Sprinkle with half of the remaining dill and half the remaining grated beetroot then press firmly. Place the other fillet over the first one flesh side down. Match up the pieces so the thicker end of the top piece fits over the thinner end of the bottom one, making the neatest possible package.
- Sprinkle the remaining dill over the top of the fish. Cover the fish completely with plastic wrap. Weight it down (without crushing it) with something like an oil can.
- Place the salmon in the refrigerator and leave it for 2-5 days, turning the fish twice daily. To serve the gravlax, scrape away the dill and beetroot and slice the flesh from the skin on the bias as thinly as possible without tearing it. Use long sawing strokes to make the slices. It’s best if you can almost see through the fish. You will notice some dark meat against the rosy flesh; neatly cut it away because it is often too strong.