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.

Ginger, Herb, Lime & Sweet Onion Rub

Ginger, Cilantro, Lime and Sweet Onion RubThis rub/marinade is full of light, crisp flavours and would work really well on fish, chicken or tofu. If using on fish, beware that the acid in the limes actually starts to “cook” the fish, so do not let the fish marinate over night, but rather for just a few hours. FYI, for those of you that hate cilantro (like I do), I find that when combined with other herbs, like here with mint, the cilantro flavour is not that strong. Alternatively, you can substitute with an equal amount of parsley. This recipe will make about 2 cups of rub/marinade.

Ingredients:

1 ounce fresh ginger, finely diced (about ¼ cup)
¼ cup cilantro, chopped (about ¼ of a bunch)*
¼ cup mint, chopped (about ¼ of a bunch)*
4 limes, juiced and zested**
¼ sweet onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt

* Click here to learn how to properly clean these herbs.
** Click here for tips on zesting.

Directions:

If you want to save time and not have to dice everything by hand, you can use a food processor, but just make sure to use the pulse control feature, as this is supposed to be chunky and not a puree.

Combine all the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl and mix to incorporate. If using as a rub, coat the fish/chicken/tofu (or other protein) about one hour before grilling, using only enough to coat the protein. If using as a marinade, on chicken or tofu, marinate for 4 hours or more, even up to overnight. If using on fish, marinate for 1-3 hours. This recipe should be enough for about 4 large pieces of protein.

Charred Jalapeno, Mango, Citrus & Tequila Rub

Charred Chile, Mango, Lemon Verbena and Tequila RubThis marinade/rub will give your meat a bit of a Latino kick! You can cut down on the amount of jalapenos you use if you want it to be milder, however when the jalapenos are charred they tend to lose a bit of their potency. Additionally, if you remove the seeds and inner membranes (the white parts that the seeds cling to) from the peppers, that will greatly reduce the heat level. This recipe will make about 2 cups of marinade.

Ingredients:

6 jalapenos
1 mango, diced
3 limes, juiced and zested*
¼ sweet onion, diced
2 tablespoons chopped lemon verbena (you can substitute lemon thyme, lemon grass or lemon zest)**
2 ounces silver tequila***
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt

* Click here for tips on zesting limes.
** Click here to learn how to properly clean lemon verbena.
*** Click here to see the approved kosher alcohol list.

Directions:

Preheat your grill or grill pan. Place the jalapenos on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until charred black. Allow jalapenos to cool. Once cooled, remove the stem and seeds. Combine the seeded and stemmed jalapenos and remaining ingredients in a food processor. Using the pulse control, process until almost smooth and combined. Rub steaks (or other protein) about one hour before grilling, using only enough to coat the steak. This recipe should be enough for about 4 steaks.