Zest the citrus. Combine the sea salt and sugar together. Cut the filet in two pieces. It will work best if the two pieces are the same size.
Lay one piece of salmon skin down in a glass casserole dish. Cover the flesh of the salmon with the sea salt and sugar mixture. Cover the salmon with citrus zest and dill. Cover the other piece of salmon similarly with the sugar and salt mixture. Place the remaining zest and dill on the first piece. Place the second piece on the first piece to sandwich them together, flesh sides facing each other. Cover the casserole with plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight.
The mixture will cook the salmon and as it does so, the salmon will throw off a lot of liquid. The next day, remove both pieces of salmon from the dish and drag each flesh side down through the liquid that the salmon has thrown off. Sandwich the filets together again (fleshy parts toward each other). Repeat this twice each day. Flip the sandwich stack so that each filet gets equal time sitting in the liquid mixture. Remain covered for 48 hours. If the fish looks like it has thrown off too much liquid and its edges are being cooked too much by the liquid, pour some of the liquid off so that it does not overcook the fish.
After 48 hours, the salmon will look bright with a lovely colour. Taste the brine to determine the flavour. Lay the salmon on a metal drying rack over a casserole dish and place in the fridge overnight to dry off some of the residual liquid.
The next day the salmon will be ready to serve – either on its own, or with red onions, cream cheese and capers on bagels, on salad, in smoked salmon eggs benedict – the possibilities are endless! Enjoy this recipe which one of our favourite chefs, Sandi Irving, taught us to make during a great visit we had together. This recipe was a critical way to help deal with the homesickness solely felt for the home-smoked salmon we devour whenever back in the northwest. Sandi is the Executive Chef at Nimmo Bay Luxury Wilderness Resort and in her off-seasons, she works as Entremetier at the Sooke Harbour House, both on British Columbia’s locavore heaven, Vancouver Island.
*A quick safety note: The fresh salmon that you buy at the store will have been frozen at sea, which is sufficient to stave off worms and other lovelies. If you are using salmon you’ve freshly caught yourself, please freeze it for 24-48 hours in order to ensure that this is done. Once the Gravlax is made, it can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days – if it lasts that long.
Chop the chilis roughly and then cover with boiling water, leaving them to soak for approximately one hour. Drain the water and puree the chilis in a food processor. Add the spices and garlic, 2 tbsp of the olive oil and 1/2 tsp of the sea salt. Puree the mixture together for 30 seconds, then use a spatula to scrape the sides of the food processor before mixing for another 30 seconds or so. Add 2 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp of sea salt, then puree the mixture again. Continue this cycle, repeating the process until all of the olive oil and sea salt has been added and the mixture has formed a thick paste.
Sterilize the canning jars, using either medium sized jam jars or large squat jars, while sterilizing the lids and rings as well. Spoon the paste in the clean, sterilized canning jars. Process the jars by placing them in a pot of boiling water, with an inch or so of water covering the jars. Keep the jars in the boiling water for 10 minutes, then remove and let cool.
The harissa is excellent for adding that bit of needed spice to couscous, paella or most any recipe around the kitchen that needs a bit of kick. There is always a revolving jar of harissa in our fridge since it finds its way in a surprising number of our dishes…
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