Norse countries are well known for a cured salmon dish called gravlax. Historically, Norwegians would bury fresh fish in the sand near the ocean edge and leave it for several days. These “salty graves” would draw moisture from the fish, alter its texture, and naturally season the fillets. The cured salmon could then be used in a myriad of ways.
Today, gravlax is most often used like lox or smoked salmon and cold curing your own at home is a snap. Look for the dry mixture to draw moisture from the fish and replace it with a signature sweet and salty essence. Simple additions of dill and citrus elevate the delicate fish to brunch worthy fare. Forever change a predictable breakfast item by serving delectable home cured gravlax with bagels and all the traditional trimmings or channel your inner Viking and create these Danish open faced sandwiches called, Smorrebrod.
Home-cured Gravlax Smorrebrod
Make sure to use the freshest salmon you can find for these lovely little sandwiches and begin this recipe a day before you plan to serve it. Cured salmon will keep for two days in the refrigerator after rinsing. Halve or double this recipe as needed.
For the Gravlax:
- 1 Pound fresh skinless salmon fillet (preferably Norwegian)
- 1 ½ CupSugar
- ¾ Cup Salt
- 2 teaspoons white pepper
- ¾ Cup fresh dill (fronds and stems), chopped
- 1Tablespoon each Lemon and orange zest
For the Sauce:
- ½ Cup Mustard
- ¼ Cup Honey
- 1T Chopped fresh dill
For the Sandwich (amounts will vary according to personal tastes):
- Pumpernickel bread, crusts removed
- Cream Cheese
- Thinly sliced cucumber
- Thinly sliced red onion
- Dill Sprigs
For the gravlax: Mix the sugar, salt, white pepper, dill and zests in a mixing bowl. Pour 1 C of the mixture into the bottom of a shallow ceramic dish and place the fish on top. Pour the remaining salt and sugar mixture over the fish to completely bury it. Wrap the dish with plastic wrap and place the the refrigerator for 8-12 hours. Remove the fish from the salt and sugar mixture and discard (it will look like slush). Rinse salmon briefly under cold water to remove any excess sugar and salt. Slice fish very thinly across the grain.
To assemble the sandwiches: Toast the crustless Pumpernickel bread. Quarter each slice to make appetizer sized bites or use a whole slice to make a traditional open faced Danish sandwich called smorrebrod.
Spread the toast with a bit of cream cheese. Top with salmon slices, cucumber, red onion and dill sprigs. Drizzle the finished sandwiches with the honey mustard sauce and serve immediately.