This recipe for gin & beetroot cured salmon gravadlax makes an impressive starter for Easter that's surprisingly easy to make.
Gravadlax is a Nordic dish of raw salmon, normally cured in dill, salt and sugar. A bit like smoked salmon but with the harsh smoky flavour replaced with a more delicate and herby taste. It makes an ideal starter at Easter served on bagels, blinis or slices of cucumber. The curing process draws out the moisture in the salmon, preserving the fish, but it also imbues it with the flavours of the curing mixture.
You can cure fish with lots of different mixtures, both wet and dry, provided you have sufficient salt to draw out the moisture. Whilst Gravadlax is normally done with a dry cure we've made a recipe to cure it in our favourite spirit. Curing in gin both aids the preservation process and adds all the delicious flavours of juniper and other botanicals to the fish.
We've also added beetroot to the cure which adds a sweetness to the fish and a brilliant bright purple hue.
To make gin & beetroot cured salmon gravadlax you will need:
To make the first cure, peel and chop the beetroots and add them to a food processor with the orange and lemon zest, salt, sugar and half the gin. Puree until you make a fine paste.
On a large baking tray, place a layer cling-film followed by a layer of wax paper. Place the salmon skin-side down on the wax paper. Apread the beetroot cure mixture over the salmon flesh, covering the fish entirely. Wrap the salmon in the wax paper and then use the cling-film to wrap the salmon and paper even tighter. The aim is to let as little air as possible get to the salmon. Place the wrapped salmon in a fridge for 24 hours.
The next day, take the salmon out of the fridge, unwrap it and remove the cure. The fish should have taken on the beautiful colour of the beetroot. Discard the cure, the cling-film and the paper. Rinse the salmon to remove the paper and pat dry with some kitchen towel. On another baking tray place a layer of cling-film and a layer of wax paper. Place the salmon skin-side down on the wax paper.
Chop the dill and tarragon and mix with the grated horeseradish and remaining gin. Using your hands, spread this mixture over the salmon and press down into the salmon's flesh. Once completely covered, re-wrap the salmon in the paper and cling-film, taking care to leave none of the salmon exposed to the air. Pop it back in the fridge for another 24 hours.
The next day, your salmon should be ready to eat. Remove it from the fridge, unwrap the parcel and transfer to a chopping board. Remove the skin using a sharp knife. The slice the salmon side as thinly as you're able.
Serve with cream cheese, a lemon wedge, a sprig of dill and either bagels, blinis or brown bread. For an accompanying gin and tonic, we recommend Da Mhile Seaweed which has botanicals specifically chosen to complement seafood.
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