Unlike smoking, which dries and shrinks the fish, this pickling process allows the fish to stay moist and full-bodied. The gravlax can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. Serve gravlax thinly sliced on a piece of pumpernickel bread with dill butter (mix softened butter with chopped fresh dill).
- 1 (8-pound) boned salmon, cut into 2 fillets, skin on
- 1/4 cup whole anise seeds, toasted
- 1/4 cup whole caraway seeds, toasted
- 1/4 cup freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup salt
- 5 large bunches of fresh dill, coriander, or chervil
- 1/4 cup vodka, aquavit, or gin
Place salmon fillets on a parchment-lined work surface. Remove any remaining bones from fillets. In a medium bowl, mix together anise seeds, caraway seeds, pepper, sugar, and salt.
Place one fillet in a large glass or enamel pan. Cover with spice mixture. Spread dill on top of spices, then pour vodka or other liquor on top of dill. Place second fillet on top of the first, in the opposite direction (head to tail).
Cover entire pan tightly with plastic wrap. Place a heavy object, such as a book or brick, into a smaller pan. Lay pan on top of fish to weigh it down, and place both pans in refrigerator.
After 12 hours, remove fish from the pan, turn it over, and rewrap tightly with new plastic wrap. Replace weighted pan on top of fish. Continue to refrigerate for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 more days, turning fish over every 12 hours.
After 4 days, remove fish from refrigerator, unwrap, and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Remove top fillet, and scrape dill and spices from the surface of both fillets.
To serve, slice each fillet on the diagonal into thin pieces.