You know how people are always telling you how you’ve gotta do things your way and live your own life and be your own man (woman!!) and then down the road you’ll be horribly succesful and get absolutely all that you desire and the world will bow at your feet? Well I’ve been trying to do that all my life and I have yet to see even my very spoiled dog do any bowing. Not even a curtsy, seriously. But I have been doing all the things that I enjoy and bring me peace and satisfaction, and even if its hard at times in the end it’s always rewarding. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it twice; DO WHAT YOU LOVE. I don’t mean to be preachy, but seriously, I think it’s the most important thing in the world! I can only imagine being 70 and looking back…I wonder what I’ll want to tell myself? I’m glad I have all this money in the bank or…I’m glad I ate gravlax and spent my bucks in riding and cooking and gardening and buying oil paints every time I felt like it? Ok I’ll be frank, I’ll probably want to tell myself both. But I’m sure I’ll get there! Everyone says so right? And we all know that if everyone says so then it must be true. And plus, even Frank Sinatra sang about it. So that’s what I tell myself every time I go to the market and I see a huge salmon fillet, just waiting to be played with. And I did play my way; I put a little twist on the classic Nordic dish. I made my gravlax with loads and loads of spearmint (’cause its so much milder than dill) and lime rinds, because those three together even when non-gravlaxed make a great combo, imho. And when you put it over pumpernickel and a deliciously creamy labneh sauce, (also called jocoque, aka strained yoghurt) rich in chives and a drop of lime on top…..well you’ll certainly be glad you’re doing it your way. Don’t lie, you want to read more for the recipe, right?
(Note: you could also substitute the labneh for homemade cheese!)
Spearmint and lime gravlax
1 salmon fillet super fresh or commercially frozen with skin on (the size of your fillet will determine how much of the rest of the ingredients you need, adjust accordingly)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup coarse salt
3 tbsp fresh pepercorns
Rind of two or three limes
1 large bunch of spearmint
Combine together salt, sugar, pepper and lime rind in a bowl. (To remove the rind use a very sharp knife or your microplane. Try not to get any of the actual lime flesh in there). Cut your salmon fillet crosswise into two equal halves. Place one part skin side down on a long strip of clear film wrap(leave the film wrap uncut on the roll so it’ll bea easier to wrap the salmon when you’re done). Pour half the salt mixture on top and gently pat it close to salmon, covering as much of it as you can. Place most of the spearmint sprigs on top, then cover the other half of the salmon with remaining salt mixture and put it on top of that, skin side up. You should now have a salmon sandwich with spearmint in between. Place the remaining spearmint on top and then wrap the whole thing up as tightly as you can in the film wrap. (Do this lenghtwise, flip it over and then do it crosswise. The film should be as tight as possible, pull it gently as you wrap and give it as many “turns” as needed, this way you won’t need to put any weight on top.) Place in a container to gather up the juices that will flow from it and refrigerate for 48 hours. Remove from the fridge and run it under the cold water tap quickly to remove all the salt and sugar stuff. Slice thinly with your sharpest knife, removing each piece from the skin.
For the labneh sauce: just chop up a generous bunch of chives and mix it into the labneh. If you don’t have any available, you could go see my homemade cheese recipe, or use greek yogurt. Warm up your pumpernickel slices, add a generous dab of the yoghurt-chives mix and top with a few slices of the gravlax.
Gravlax pairs great with bagels, cream cheese, limes, mustard, dill, fennel, and cucumbers. Pretty much anything you would eat with smoked salmon works with gravlax. I especially like it on pumpernickel, or rye bread.