“Why don’t they just call it ‘smoked salmon’?” a friend-of-a-friend wondered to someone at a recent brunch party.
“It actually isn’t smoked. It’s cured in salt,” I invited myself to the conversation, sounding about as obnoxious as you would imagine. Fortunately, no one rolled their eyes at me.
Some fun facts: Lox (or gravlax or gravlox) is a Nordic dish of fish cured in salt, sugar and dill. The rest of the ingredients — maybe it’s citrus slices, tequila or vodka — will vary with each recipe. During the Middle Ages, it was made by fisherman, who buried it in the sand to ferment it. Specifically, “gravlax” is Scandinavian for “buried salmon”.
Since this delicious dish is salt cured it’s really easy to make. Really. You’d be surprised. You’ll need to do this a day and a half prior to serving, but it pretty much just needs to sit in the refrigerator.
The hardest part is slicing it. Make sure you have a really sharp knife!
Prep time: 5 minutes
For the gravlax:
1 pound salmon filet, sliced in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoons white pepper
1/2 package fresh dill (or about 8 sprigs), minced
2 tablespoons vodka
1 package of bagels (I prefer plain or onion)
1 small tub of cream cheese
1 small jar of capers
Remaining fresh dill, minced
1. Drape plastic wrap over a baking sheet or glass dish, lay one half of the salmon filet, skin side down.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the salt, sugar and pepper. Sprinkle half of the salt mixture over the filet. Top with the dill. Pour over the vodka. It’ll look like this:
3. Sprinkle the remaining salt mixture on the fleshy side of the other salmon filet. Place over the salmon in the dish, skin side up. Like this:
4. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Flip over and wrap in a second piece of plastic wrap. Like this:
5. Place in refrigerator and weigh the fish down with something heavy, like a brick. (I used a ceramic loaf pan with a bottle of club soda on top because I’m creative.) Let sit for 36 hours, flipping over the fish ever 12 hours.
6. When the lox is done, unwrap and rinse gently under cold water. Pat dry. Slice very thinly at an extreme angle. (Hint: your knife will almost be parallel to the fish.) Like this:
7. Serve with bagels, cream cheese, capers and the remaining fresh dill. Blush at the compliments from your friends!