Gravlax on Rye w. Lemon Butter & Mustard Sauce
During visits to Finland I get a small thrill when I see those little cured salmon sandwiches behind glass counters at cafes everywhere. Actually, visit any of the neighbouring Nordic countries - Sweden, Denmark, Norway - and you'll see these little crafted sandwiches everywhere from airports and train stations to the gaudy dining room at a fancy hotel brunch. Always served open-faced on dark rye and garnished beautifully, they're like the Nordic answer to the Spanish tapa.
Serves 4-6 people. Best served for brunch or as an appetizer.
Two x 3/4-pound fillets of Atlantic salmon, skin on
3 tsp peppercorns, whole
1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, whole
3 tbsp kosher salt
3 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cup (one large bunch) fresh dill, chopped finely
150g unsalted butter
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp crushed peppercorn
3/4 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped finely
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp canola or sunflower seed oil
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped finely
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp potato flour
Prepare the salmon 1 to 4 days ahead of serving. If you've got your salmon fillets pre-cut at the fish shop, great. If you've got a whole front or back half of a salmon you'll need to fillet it prior to curing.
Prepare the flavour mix. Put a heavy skillet on a medium heat and drop in the peppercorns and coriander seeds until they're fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and crush them with a pestle and mortar along with the salt and sugar. Place the fragrant mixture into a bowl with the dill and toss.
Prepare the salmon fillets for curing. Using the point of a small sharp knife, poke ten small holes into the skin side of the fillets. Take an 8x11-inch glass dish (with sides at least 2 inches tall) and coat the bottom with 1/3 of the dill mixture. Place the fillets on top, skin side down. Now coat the top of the fillets with the remaining dill mixture and cover the glass dish with plastic wrap. Find some heavy cans (soup, tomato, any will do) and place them on top of the salmon. Put it in the fridge and leave to cure for at least 24 hours and up to 4 days.
Meanwhile.... you can prepare the lemon butter and mustard sauce up to two days ahead of time.
For the lemon butter: place the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixture and heat it slowly above a stove top (without direct contact). Place the bowl under the mixer and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until the butter reaches a creamy consistency and holds a peak. Throw in the salt, pepper, lemon zest, and dill. Put the butter in a serving dish and leave it in the fridge for up to a day.
For the mustard sauce: place the mustard, honey, vinegar, and oil into a bowl and whisk. Throw the salt, dill, and lemon zest into the mixture and stir. If you want to thicken the sauce, dust sifted potato flour into the sauce and whisk until it reaches the desired consistency.
When the gravlax is ready, remove from the fridge and unwrap the plastic coating. Scrape off the dill coating and discard (it's okay if you don't get all of it). Using a very sharp knife, cut thin slices of salmon at a 45 degree angle. Don't cut all the way through the skin (this will be very difficult to do, anyways). You want to stop at the skin and remove the slice from here.
For serving, place a couple bite-sized slices onto a piece of buttered rye bread (use the creamy lemon butter). Always serve with a lemon wedge. A sprig of fresh dill and a bit of red onion wouldn't go astray, either. From here, additional toppings can be added as you please (see the suggestions below). To slice the veggies, it helps enormously to have a mandolin to get the slices very thin. For an extra burst of flavour, try quick-pickling the veg - it's amazing with the fresh and salty salmon.
Suggestions for toppings:
Suggestions for sides:
Suggestions for drink pairings: