There is a great fish tradition in Scandinavia. We eat fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. One very famous dish is the “Gravlax”. You can find it in every corner of the world. Here in the States they call it “Lox”.
We make it for almost every big holiday all through the year. Originally for the Swedish Christmas table they served more fish, sausages, something we call “Pot dipping” (This is bread dipped in the left over liquid after boiling ham, sausages and other meat products. The broth is very tasty). It still can be found at a Christmas buffet but it’s not too popular with the younger generations that grew up with meatballs, ribs and oven baked hams.
To make “Gravad Lax” you would usually or by tradition use salt, sugar and dill. It was in the old days a way of preserving the food. That is how all our pickled herrings also came about. We eat a lot of pickled herring. There are so many variations of it. For the marinating of the salmon, my favorite is to also add a little good cognac. It gives the salmon a little deeper taste. It is not needed at all, but I love it.
There is a “new” kind of salmon that we enjoy. It is called “Najad smoked salmon”. I first found it at the fisherman at my country house in Grisslehamn/ Väddö,north of Stockholm, Sweden. “Najad smoked salmon” is a salmon that has both been marinated and cold smoked. It is has the deeper taste from the smoking and the more tangy flavor from the marinating. Absolutely to be recommended.
I would go to the fisherman as often as I could. I would order things ahead if I really “needed” (read “was craving..”) something in particular.
This is my regular “Gravlax” recipe. Just skip the alcohol if you rather do it the ordinary way.
Caution; You have to freeze the salmon for at least 3 days but preferably 1 week before marinating it. This just so that you kill off any potential bacteria in the fish. (note that if you marinate or pickle with vinegar, the vinegar kills any bacteria and you don’t need to freeze the fish. If you only use salt and sugar it must be frozen.)
Gravad Lax/ Lox/ Marinated Salmon;
About 2 lb fresh salmon, preferably the middle piece (If possible, use 2 pieces of fish since it is easier to marinate it “flesh sides together”.
1/2 c. granulated sugar or brown sugar.
1/4 c. salt.
1/4-1/2 c. coarsely chopped salmon.
1 tbsp. crushed pepper.
2-4 tbsp. good cognac or any other of your favorite alcohol (optional).
Take the fish and remove any bones that you can find, with a small knife.
Package it and put it in the freezer for about 3 days to kill off any potential bacteria.
After at least 3 days in the freezer, let defrost in the fridge over night. Mix salt, sugar and pepper together. Rub the fish well with the mixture. Cut up the dill in a little larger pieces (you need to be able to remove the dill later and it is easier if the pieces are slightly bigger). Add the dill on top of the salmon pieces. Pour over a little cognac on both sides (do this with a plate or bowl underneath to catch the cognac so that you can pour all of it into the plastic bag or over it in a bowl). Put the salmon pieces flesh sides together with the dill in the center. Let sit in the fridge for about 3 days. Turn one or two times per day. When done, scrape off all the dill and pepper. Save a little of the marinade.
Cut up nice and thin slices on an angle. The first few slices might not be too cute, but they can always go to the chef…
Brush the pieces very slightly with the marinade when cut. You can also brush them with any other liquid of your choice. For example a splash of new fresh cognac or a great liquor. Throw away the rest of the marinade.