Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mark Bittman's Gravlax

The Food In Jars salt challenge is so wide-ranging, I had to try another recipe. Gravlax, or salt-cured salmon, seemed a natural. There's not much to say – I followed Mark Bittman's Gravlax recipe, using some techniques mentioned in the comprehensively informative Serious Eats recipe and essay, and a 2:1 salt:sugar dry brine. The required effort was minimal; some space in the fridge was needed. The results are excellent, luxuriously yummy.

Gravlax on cutting board

For this recipe the most important comments have to do with food safety. Salmon sometimes carries parasites that can affect humans, so the fish MUST be sushi-grade, that is, commercially frozen to render it suitable for consuming raw. And as this type of salt-curing is a fleeting preservation method, the gravlax MUST be eaten within five days of finishing its cure. Given the wide availability of "previously frozen fish" and the tastyness of gravlax, both safety requirements are easily satisfied.

Bittman's recipe says a 3-lb (1.36 kg) piece of salmon will yield 12 appetizer servings. A quarter-pound per person initially sounds outlandish, but it does seem most people if given half a chance will happily gorge on this stuff until surfeited, so the part that's mistaken is calling this an appetizer. At casa Jersey Knitter, there were suspicious mutterings when the curing salmon first appeared in the refrigerator, hogging so much shelf space, followed by impatient mutterings as it underwent its three-day cure, then more suspicion ("You try it first, and if you don't keel over..."), a sudden change of heart after that first amazing taste, then the soft noises of very contented feeding.

Gravlax plated

A bonus happiness is I used some of the overly salty vegetable bouillon to wash the raw salmon as described in the Serious Eats recipe. I was wondering what to do with it! We ate the gravlax with my own pickled nasturtium pods, which are similar to pickled capers, except they taste like pickled nasturtium pods (duh), flowery-mustardy-cresslike. I really must put up more... which means planting more.

I am definitely making more gravlax. I'd like to try the basic recipe with other fish, substitute shiso, an Asian pickling herb, for dill, tweak the dry brine mix. I used gin for the booze, which added a nice juniper berry note, and wonder what adding juniper berries to the rub will do. Mmm... so many things to try.

Brain hat wip

Meanwhile, fibery progress continues. I'm wishing I had a not-too-big stainless steel mixing bowl. They don't have much appeal as mixing bowls for me, but for craft purposes they're da bomb. Hm.

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