Citrus Dill Gravlax

GravlaxSo how can you be a kosher cooking blog having a week highlighting fish, and not touch on Lox? It’s a Jewish staple! Confession time… up until a few months ago I could not stand Lox of any kind. Even the smell or thought of it turned me off completely. Now I seem obsessed with it! I don’t like it… I LOVE it! Better late than never I guess!

Now I realize that Gravlax is not Lox. Lox is cured through smoking while Gravlax is cured in a salt/acid mixture. The tastes and textures though are quite similar. That, and you can make Gravlax easily at home… Lox, not so much (I’m not counting those that have their own personal smokers at home). This dish takes a while to cure, but in truth, very little effort to make. Trust me this will be a HUGE hit at your next party and your guests will be incredibly impressed.

Ingredients:

Gravlax:
1 (1-pound) salmon fillet, skin on
1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
zest of 1 orange**
zest of ½ lime**
zest of ½ lemon**
1 ½ tablespoons tequila/vodka/gin (plus more if needed)
1 cup chopped fresh dill, divided*

Sauce:
2 tablespoons honey mustard
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill*
¼ teaspoon salt
pepper, to taste

To serve:
Melba toasts or toast points
capers
sliced onion
dill sprigs

* Click here to learn about cleaning dill.
** Click here for my tips on zesting citrus.

Directions:

For Gravlax: Heat the peppercorns in a small skillet over medium-high heat until spices are fragrant and seeds jump slightly, shaking skillet frequently, about 2 minutes. Crush spices in mortar with pestle or transfer to work surface, cover with kitchen towel (not terry cloth), and crush with mallet or bottom of heavy pan. Transfer spices to small bowl. Mix in salt, sugar, and the zests of the orange, lemon and lime.

Trim the fillet so that it is uniform in size. Using small sharp knife, poke 12 small holes through skin of both pieces of salmon. Rub ⅓ of spice mixture over skin. Sprinkle ⅓ cup chopped dill in bottom of 7x7x2-inch or 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Place the salmon, skin side down, on top of the dill. Pour the alcohol over the fish. Rub the remaining spice mixture onto the top of the salmon. Then press the remaining chopped dill into salmon. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto fish. Place a small plate or smaller dish on top of the plastic, so that it makes direct contact with the wrapped fish. Place some heavy cans on plate so that the fish is weighted down. Refrigerate 2 to 3 days, checking on it once or twice a day, and basting the fish with the juices produced by the curing process. On the second day of curing, slice off a small piece and taste it. If it doesn’t taste like it’s getting there, add a little more salt and/or alcohol on the fish.

For Sauce: Whisk mustard and vinegar in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in oil. Stir in chopped dill and salt. Season with ground black pepper. (Sauce can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.)

To Serve: Scrape spices and dill off both sides of salmon (some spice mixture will remain). Using knife with long thin blade, thinly slice salmon diagonally at 45-degree angle from top of fillet toward skin. Cut with a back and forth sawing motion toward the narrow end to remove a thin slice of fish. Start each succeeding slice a bit farther in from the narrow end; always cut at a flat angle to keep the slices as long and thin as possible. Serve with Melba toasts, toast points, capers, dill, onions and the mustard sauce.

Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad

Here is a throwback to the old types of pasta salad that you used to see at big picnics. I’ve upped the flavour a bit by adding both tuna and eggs, as well as pickles, their brine and a dash of paprika. I hope you enjoy! This recipe will make 6-8 servings.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups macaroni
1 can tuna, drained
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
4 green onions, sliced*
½ green bell pepper, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 pickles, diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 ½ tablespoons pickle brine
less than 1 cup mayonnaise (add enough to bring together, but not to overwhelm)
1 tablespoon prepared mustard (yellow, Dijon or honey)
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions.

Directions:

Cook noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water according to the directions on the package, until al dente. Drain the noodles, and set them aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the pasta, tuna, eggs, green onions, celery, pickles, green and red bell pepper.

In a small bowl, mix together the garlic powder, paprika, pickle brine, mustard, salt, pepper, and about half the mayonnaise. Taste for flavouring.

Add the sauce to the pasta mixture, and mix well to combine. Add more mayonnaise if needed to help bring it together, or if you’d like it creamier. The salad should be a little “wet” at first, as the noodles will soak up the moisture in the dressing, and you want it to be a little wetter at first, so that it is not too dry later. Refrigerate until ready to serve.