Amongst a slathering of cream cheese squeezed with some good rye or a spongy bagel, who doesn't like a bit of cured salmon?
This old school way of preserving fish dates back to the middle ages - this is known as gravalax and finds it's origins in Nordic countries such as Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland. The Nordic fisherman used to bury salted and fermented salmon in sand.
However, the actual process of curing fish is known to have begun 3000 BCE, Mesopotamia where salt and sesame oil was used in the process. As Phoenicians started trading salt, it became commonplace in the Mediterranean so the Greeks and Romans began developing their own methods of curing fish, meat and developing some pickling methods.
The idea of curing salmon imparts and infuses flavour into the fish while under a heavy weight and the salt brings out the moisture - enabling the fish or meat to be preserved for long periods of time.
This recipe is a quick and easy way to prepare fish without using heat or too much effort. The end result is impressive in colour and suprising in texture...
Serves 6 people
600g salmon, de-boned
10g dill, leaves only
300g sea salt
500g fresh beetroot
100g white wine vinegar
20g dijon mustard
50g white caster sugar
Peel and cut beetroot into rough cubes
Blend the beetroot with mustard and white wine vinegar until it makes a nice paste, set aside
Blend the salt, dill and sugar in a spice grinder or this will work in a blender as well
Line a tray with 2 layers of cling film
Line the cling film with half the amount of beetroot mixture and half the amount of the dill salt mixture
Place salmon on this mixture and then pour the remainder of the salt and beetroot on top of the salmon
Wrap the salmon firmly with cling film.
Place in a box and place a considerable amount of weight on the salmon. This will squeeze out extra liquid or moisture from the fish which is ideal for the curing process. Try a few kilograms of flour, wooden boards or containers filled with water.
Store the fish like this overnight
Drain of the excess liquid and wash the salmon well to remove all the salt.
Slice thinly with a very sharp knife
Serve on rye bread with dill, capers, red onions and a good creme fraiche or sour cream