2 fillets fresh salmon, skin on, weighing about 700 g
4 t (20 ml) coarse or flaky sea salt
1 T (15 ml) black peppercorns
4 t (20 ml) white granulated sugar
a large bunch of French chives (or fresh dill)
1 t (5 ml) finely grated fresh lemon zest
4 T (60 ml) dry gin
3 T (45 ml) small capers, rinsed and drained
sunflower oil for frying the capers
fresh herb sprigs
8 bottled caperberries (optional)
a little olive oil
milled black pepper
½ cup (125 ml) home-made mayonnaise or crème fraîche
Remove the pin bones from the salmon and cut away the dark blood-line. Place a fillet, skin-side down, on a large sheet of clingfilm. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the salt, peppercorns and sugar to a coarse powder and sprinkle it all over the salmon fillet. Finely chop half the bunch of chives (or dill, if you’re using it) and spread over the fillet. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of gin. Place the other salmon piece flesh-side down on top.
Wrap the parcel tightly in clingfilm and, using a toothpick, prick the packet in a few places, top and bottom, so the liquid can drain away. Place in a shallow dish and put a weight (a brick is ideal, or use tins from the cupboard) on top. Refrigerate for 12 hours, then turn the parcel over, weigh it down again, and cure for a further 12 hours. Unwrap the parcel, remove the chives and wipe off the curing spices. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of gin over the lower fillet, cover the remaining chopped fresh chives, replace the top fillet, wrap in new clingfilm and refrigerate, under a weight, for another 12 hours (up to 36).
To serve, remove the chives and curing spices and pat the fish dry with kitchen paper. Using a very sharp knife held parallel to the fish, cut delicate leaves. (Alternatively, you can strip away the skin and finely chop the flesh to serve it tartare-style, in a mound). Don’t add any lemon juice, as this will ‘cook’ the fish. Arrange the gravadlax slices on a platter and cover with clingfilm.
Pat the capers quite dry on kitchen paper and heat the oil in a frying pan. When the oil is very hot, drop them, a few at a time, into the hot oil and fry until they open up like the petals of a flower and are very crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and cool completely.
Scatter the fried capers over the salmon slices and add the herb sprigs and drained caperberries. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and grind over plenty of black pepper. Serve the crème fraiche or mayonnaise in a separate bowl, or dollop it over the top. Pass around a dish of lemon wedges and a basket of fresh, soft brown bread.
Serves 6-8 as a starter.
Michael’s wine recommendation – click here
Jane-Anne Hobbs is a food writer de luxe. Recipe developer and photographer, she has written a stunning cookbook Scrumptious, click here to read my review. Always on the look out for low carb dishes, she has latterly come up with some stunners, and this is one of them.
CLICK HERE to go to her website.