I am not quite sure when my love/obsession with all things Nordic began, but its influence is visible through virtually all of my interiors work and present in most of the food I cook.
I first learned to make gravadlax a number of years ago with Signe Johansen, Norwegian food anthropologist, writer and chef (who incidentally also introduced me to the joys of baking with spelt). And I have been making a variation of this cured salmon for basically any gathering ever since. The cure can be spiked/flavoured in numerous ways, and I vary mine depending on whether I am serving it as part of a brunch spread, a lunch smorgasbord or as an hors d'oeuvre. It is also perfect for a party as it needs to sit in the fridge for 48 hours in the herby/spice mixture before slicing which means there is minimal last minute faff.
So it only seemed appropriate for gravadlax with dill and mustard sauce to appear as a central dish in my Skandi Brunch Demo that I was recently asked to host, showcasing Kikki-K's new homeware range. As my hands were somewhat tied up that morning, I want to thank Sophie Eggleton, Victoria Metaxas (aka Aurora Stories), Vikki Packer (aka Style and Minimalism) and Emma Parlons (aka Life of Yablon) for taking wonderful snaps of the demo, and allowing me to feature them here today.
Gravadlax with Dill and Mustard Sauce
This recipe is adapted from Scandilicious by Signe Johansen and The Scandinavian Cookbook by Trina Hahnemann (another of my Scandi food gurus)
One of the secrets of good gravadalx is really fresh salmon. If you are in any doubt, freeze your salmon for 24 hours, and then defrost before curing.
(See note at the end of the recipe for making this for a smaller crowd)
1.5kg side of salmon 1.5 tbsp black peppercorns 1 tbsp coriander seeds or juniper berries 100g granulated sugar 75g maldon salt 2-3 tbsp Aquavit or Gin (optional) 100g dill + 6 extra dill sprigs
Sauce 30g dill 3 tbsp sunflower oil 3 tbsp white wine or cider vinegar 3 tbsp demarara sugar 3 tbsp dijon mustard pinch of salt
Remove any pin bones and I like to trim the edges of the fillet so that its edges are tidy (but this is not completely necessary!) Crush the peppercorns and coriander seeds (or juniper berries) in a mortar and pestle, and mix with the salt and sugar. Finely chop the dill. Cut the fillet into two equal pieces and lay them skin side down on a large piece of cling film. Cover the skinless flesh with chopped dill and cover one piece with the spice mixture. Drizzle over booze if using and lay 3 additional sprigs of dill across the spices. Cover with the other piece of fish so that the dill/spice mixture is in the middle and the skin is on the outside. Wrap tightly in two layers of cling film and put in a tray or dish to catch any brine. Lay another tray or plate on top and weigh down with bottles or tins. Leave to cure for 48 hours in the fridge, turning every 12 hours or so (if you remember!)
When ready to serve, blitz all the ingredients for the sauce together in a blender or food processor and whizz until smooth.
To serve, unwrap the salmon, and wipe off the herby/spice mixture with kitchen towel. Chop the remaining dill sprigs and lightly press onto the salmon. Slice diagonally from the tail to the centre, and serve on buttered rye or sourdough and drizzled with dill and mustard sauce (and if like me you are radish crazy, sprinkle a few on top too).
Note: If you want to make this for a smaller crowd, use a 750g fillet of salmon, and use slightly less of the cure. Lay the chopped dill over the flesh side of the salmon and top with the salt/sugar/spice mixture. Wrap tightly in a double layer of cling film and cure in the fridge for 48 hours in a roasting pan and under a weight. When ready, rub off the cure, slice and serve.