Warm fillet of salmon gravadlax with rosti potato, cucumber noodles, beetroot and a dill mustard dressing

Monday, March 30, 2009
So much wonderful food in the last week, but all I have to show for it is this one dish. So busy with 87 people over 5 parties in 2 days there wasn't much time for photos. So no photo of the pigeon salad ("the pigeons are in the courtyard, they just need feathering and gutting.....") with celariac puree, black pudding, parsnip crisps and mustard vinaigrette, no photo of the pheasant au vin with pearl barley risotto, or the canapes (savoury and dessert), or the rack of lamb dish finished, or the white chocolate and blueberry cheesecake which I rather like. What we have here though is the salmon gravadlax for another new dish.
I've always loved warm smoked salmon - thinly sliced and warmed slightly under the grill it makes a great starter with a beurre blanc and a little salad. When I was looking at new menu ideas around new year I thought of using gravadlax instead.

Gravadlax was always a Saturday night job at Claridges - late after all the banquets had been sent. You had to hide the whole salmon fillets deep inside your fridge so the fish section wouldn't use them during their service, and then do it on Saturday night in case they came in early on Sunday to hunt them out. It takes a minimum of 2 days, preferably 3 to marinade, so if you had to wait till Monday you ran the risk of running out of time.

These were done on Thursday morning for Sunday night. Having done this so many times I never use quantities, but you start with orange and lemon zest and equal amounts of sugar and salt. If you have any caster sugar left from making candied orange or lemon zest this is ideal to use because it has extra flavour. To this you add a few juniper berries pounded in the pestle & mortar (or broken with the back of a knife), milled black pepper and chopped dill. Sprinkle this over the salmon and press it on. If you are slicing it thin, like smoked salmon you use skin on salmon which makes it easy to carve. Make a little nick in the skin so the marinade flavours go through the skin. Here I am using 150g fillets to serve it as a main course. You can also add vodka, cognac or gin which give you an extra flavour. Also beetroot to make the russian style gravadlax.

After this I put another tray on top, wrap it well so it doesn't get exposed to the air which would dry it out, then it is pressed (if you haven't any heavy weights you can use a saucepan full of water) at the bottom of the fridge - that way any juice that drips out doesn't go over anything else in the fridge. The pressing along with the salt helps remove some of the water content in the salmon which cures it.

2 or 3 days later you remove the marinade layer of salt, sugar, zest etc and sprinkle them with a small amount of fresh chopped dill to just coat the top, and you can bake them in the oven. Because it is cured you don't have to cook them all the way through.

Gill took these ones away to Hill House to cook for a hen party, while I was cooking pigeons, pheasants and lemon tart for a stag party at Park Hall near Kidderminster so I will get a photo of the finished dish this coming weekend when I re-create it at The Boathouse near Stratford-on-avon - watch this space.

Edit - Photo added above, taken rather hurriedly as Delia was rushing to take it to the table while it was hot - only right really.

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Sam said...

I made some gravadlax last year, it's delicious and easily as good as smoked salmon.

Jan said...

Wow that salmon looks lovely!