Gravlax with Sweet Mustard Sauce
This cold-cured fish needs to stand in the refrigerator for at least one day, so plan ahead. The resulting fresh, delicate taste will be worth the wait.
- 1 side skin-on wild salmon (about 3 pounds), halved crosswise
- 2 cups fennel fronds or fresh dill, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup coarse salt
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped lemon zest
- 1 1/2 teaspoons whole pink or black peppercorns, crushed
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, crushed (optional)
- 1 tablespoon aquavit or vodka
- Sweet Mustard Sauce, optional
- 1 loaf pumpernickel bread, thinly sliced and crusts removed
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 fennel bulb or cucumber (peeled and seeded), thinly sliced
Rinse salmon; pat dry with paper towels. Trim excess fat and bones, and pull out pin bones using kitchen tweezers.
Combine fennel, sugar, salt, lemon zest, peppercorns, and caraway seeds. Line a rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap.
Spread a quarter of the curing mixture onto plastic wrap. Place 1 salmon piece, skin side down, on top. Rub salmon with half the remaining curing mixture, and drizzle with aquavit. Top with remaining salmon, skin side up, and rub with remaining curing mixture.
Wrap salmon tightly in the plastic wrap. Set a baking sheet on top of salmon, and weigh down sheet with cans or bricks. Refrigerate, flipping salmon halfway through, for 1 to 2 days (the longer the fish cures, the denser the flesh will be).
Unwrap salmon; discard liquid, and wipe off remaining curing mixture. Thinly slice salmon on the bias with a long, thin knife. Spread sweet mustard sauce on bread. Top with gravlax, onion, and fennel.