Watch Cooking Channel

Super Food Nerds: How to Make Gravlax


Welcome to Super Food Nerds, a  column written in alternating installments by Rupa (Food and Beverage Editor, Culinary Staff) and Jonathan (Research Librarian, same place). Each installment will be dedicated to a particular topic – how to DIY something you don’t normally DIY, how to perfect a dish usually taken for granted, plus best techniques, underlying chemistries and a handful of inexplicable preferences. Basically, if they can overthink it, they’re on it.

Cured fish is basically my favorite food. Smoked eel, pickled herring, kippered whitefish, weird dried squid snacks you eat in Russian saunas — I’m all about it. But it’s expensive, and I’m on a budget, so I wanted to see if I could make it myself.

There are a few ways to go about curing fish: brining and cold-smoking (at a temperature of about 100 degrees F), like most smoked salmon you see sold with bagels; brining and hot-smoking (so it’s flaky and rich, mostly done with trout); and gravlax, a dry salt cure, which gets you the silky texture of cold-smoke without the smoking part.

Gravlax is a traditional Scandinavian way of curing fish — it translates literally to “buried salmon,” since the fish used to be buried in the ground to cure. Now the fish gets buried in the dry salt-sugar cure, and since it’s the quickest, easiest way to get the fish from zero to my mouth, that’s the method I picked.

The traditional gravlax cure is a 1:1 ratio of salt to sugar, along with spices, herbs and a splash of liquor. (Salt does the curing. Sugar balances out the saltiness. Spices, herbs and liquor add flavor.) The traditional fish is salmon, but given the cost of wild salmon, and the absence of a sustainable salmon alternative, I thought I’d try with arctic char. Char is a thinner fish than salmon, so it cures faster and doesn’t need to be weighted while curing.

Fish in hand, I got to work. Salt and sugar were a given, but the rest of the seasoning was up for discussion. Since I love everything bagels, but can’t eat them, I thought everything-bagel seasoning (dried garlic, dried onion, poppy seeds and sesame seeds) would get me the best of all possible worlds: bagel flavor, no bagel necessary. (I also tried a tequila, chile and cilantro version, as well as a garam masala one, but everything bagel came out best.)

I piled the cures on, wrapped the fish well, put it on a rimmed sheet pan in the fridge and called it a day.

After 24 hours, I rinsed off the cure, patted the fish dry and started slicing.

(See the recipe for specific slicing instructions; the longer and sharper your knife, the better, and the thinner your slices, the better. In an ideal world, you should be able to read the newspaper through each slice.)

The onion and garlic come through the most, but the flavor is still pretty delicate — what you really get is rich, buttery, almost-concentrated fish.

Garnishing with extra poppy and sesame seeds gets you the whole everything-bagel experience, along with a little textural contrast.

But, when I sent the recipe to our test kitchen for cross-testing, everything went awry. After many, many rounds of testing, this is what we learned:

Char cures beautifully after 24 hours in the fridge. Salmon, which we also tried, can cure somewhat erratically depending on its thickness. We played around with weighting and flipping and still occasionally ended up with a demarcation line after which the salmon remained uncured — it was delicious, but not exactly right. So char it was, and char it continues to be; I’ve cured a whole fish per week since starting this project just to eat at home, and that shows no signs of slowing.

Get the Recipe: Everything Bagel Artic Char Gravlax

More Super Food Nerds

Tags:

Comments (1700)

  1. worldventures posted 01/09/2014

    worldventures…

    […]we prefer to honor quite a few other world wide web websites on the web, even if they aren?t linked to us, by linking to them. Underneath are some webpages worth checking out[…]…

  2. dmca-notice posted 01/09/2014

    The Silent Shard…

    This will likely most likely be really beneficial for some of the positions I decide to do not only with my weblog but…

  3. seo posted 01/10/2014

    Title…

    […]Here are a few of the internet sites we suggest for our visitors[…]…

  4. 24h news posted 01/10/2014

    Title…

    […]always a significant fan of linking to bloggers that I like but do not get quite a bit of link really like from[…]…

  5. look at these guys posted 01/10/2014

    Title…

    […]check below, are some absolutely unrelated web sites to ours, having said that, they are most trustworthy sources that we use[…]…

  6. disclaimer posted 01/10/2014

    The Birch of the Shadow…

    I think there may well become a several duplicates, but an exceedingly helpful list! I have tweeted this. Quite a few thanks for sharing!…

  7. Albany Hot Water Heater posted 01/10/2014

    Digg…

    While checking out DIGG today I found this…

  8. MOBILITY SCOOTERS HAWAII posted 01/11/2014

    MOBILITY SCOOTERS HAWAII…

    […]Sites of interest we’ve a link to[…]…

  9. epillow for ipad comfortable posted 01/11/2014

    Websites we think you should visit…

    […]although websites we backlink to below are considerably not related to ours, we feel they are actually worth a go through, so have a look[…]……

  10. terms-of-use posted 01/11/2014

    The Absent Game…

    Involving me and my husband we’ve owned a lot more MP3 players over time than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (common & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few a long time I’ve settled down to one line of players….

  11. privacy-policy posted 01/11/2014

    Thorn of Girl…

    Excellent info may be observed on this internet blogging site….

  12. VigRX Plus Results posted 01/11/2014

    Wikia…

    Wika linked to this place…

  13. disclaimer posted 01/11/2014

    The Absent Game…

    Involving me and my husband we’ve owned a lot more MP3 gamers over the years than I can count, together with Sansas, iRivers, iPods (common & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few decades I’ve settled down to one line of gamers….

  14. dmca-notice posted 01/12/2014

    Souls in the Waves…

    Fantastic Early morning, I just stopped in to go to your website and assumed I’d say I loved myself….

  15. longchamp…

    Dead pent written content , thanks for selective information ….

  16. http://www.icgr2012.com/?p=996 posted 01/12/2014

    longchamp…

    Howdy! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to take a look. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Exceptional blog and wonderful style and design….

  17. Новинки кино!…

    Смотрите фильмы онлайн…

  18. markto win33 posted 01/13/2014

    The Birch of the Shadow…

    I believe there may be considered a number of duplicates, but an exceedingly handy listing! I have tweeted this. Numerous thanks for sharing!…

  19. karen millen uk…

    Would you be serious about exchanging hyperlinks?…

  20. KM KM106 posted 01/13/2014

    karen millen uk…

    I like what you guys are up also. Such intelligent work and reporting! Keep up the excellent works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my website :)….

  21. Guide to optimize Facebook ads to spent 2 cent per click…

    […]Here is a great Weblog You may Locate Interesting that we Encourage You[…]…

  22. Title…

    […]we like to honor a lot of other world wide web web-sites on the net, even though they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Underneath are some webpages worth checking out[…]…

  23. Idol Lash Reviews posted 01/14/2014

    Dreary Day…

    It was a dreary day here today, so I just took to messing around online and found…

  24. logos2promos.info posted 01/14/2014

    Souls in the Waves…

    Excellent Morning, I just stopped in to go to your website and considered I’d say I loved myself….

  25. Jobs you can do from home posted 01/14/2014

    Websites you should visit…

    […]below you’ll find the link to some sites that we think you should visit[…]……

  26. Лучшие фильмы!…

    Смотрите популярные фильмы…

  27. Try These Out posted 01/15/2014

    Sources…

    […]check below, are some totally unrelated websites to ours, however, they are most trustworthy sources that we use[…]……

  28. terms-of-use posted 01/15/2014

    Thorn of Girl…

    Excellent info is usually identified on this net blog site….

  29. free life posted 01/15/2014

    free life…

    […]check beneath, are some absolutely unrelated websites to ours, nevertheless, they are most trustworthy sources that we use[…]…

  30. terms-of-use posted 01/15/2014

    The Ships’s Voyages…

    I believe engineering just makes it worse. Now there is a channel to by no means treatment, now there would not be a probability for them to find….

  31. robot multifonction posted 01/16/2014

    robot multifonction…

    […]check beneath, are some entirely unrelated web-sites to ours, nonetheless, they’re most trustworthy sources that we use[…]…

  32. Music from YouTube posted 01/16/2014

    Wikia…

    Wika linked to this site…

  33. http://t.co/YGk2FeY1D6 posted 01/16/2014

    Healing’s Dragon…

    to locate difficulties to enhance my web site!I suppose its okay to make usage of several of your principles!!…

  34. sexy girls posted 01/16/2014

    sexy girls…

    […]Every once inside a although we select blogs that we study. Listed below are the most up-to-date internet sites that we select […]…

  35. www.nordstrom.com posted 01/16/2014

    Online Article……

    […]The information mentioned in the article are some of the best available […]……

  36. Dallas Truck Driving Jobs posted 01/16/2014

    News info…

    I was reading the news and I saw this really cool topic…

  37. http://t.co/tDkGAvheO9 posted 01/16/2014

    The Ships’s Voyages…

    I believe know-how just can make it worse. Now there is a channel to never ever treatment, now there won’t be considered a possibility for them to find out….

  38. youtube posted 01/16/2014

    You should check this out…

    […] Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a few unrelated data, nevertheless really worth taking a look, whoa did one learn about Mid East has got more problerms as well […]……

  39. King james bible posted 01/16/2014

    Wikia…

    Wika linked to this site…

  40. Whispering Misty…

    So sorry you can expect to miss the workshop!…

  41. Woman of Alien…

    Perfect do the job you may have completed, this great site is de facto great with superb data. Time is God’s technique for retaining all the things from going on simultaneously….

  42. wegwerp elektronische sigaret posted 01/17/2014

    wegwerp elektronische sigaret…

    […]just beneath, are many absolutely not related sites to ours, however, they’re surely worth going over[…]…

  43. http://duitsevertalingen.info posted 01/17/2014

    The Slave of the Husband…

    Trying to get in advance to learning added from you afterward!……

  44. how to get your ex girlfriend back…

    Great post on how to get your ex girlfriend back…

  45. sigaret vervangers posted 01/18/2014

    sigaret vervangers…

    […]Sites of interest we’ve a link to[…]…

  46. Mirena Lawyer posted 01/18/2014

    Superb website…

    […]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I love but don’t get a lot of link love from[…]……

  47. Spybubble İndir posted 01/18/2014

    Cep Telefonu Dinleme…

    En iyi program…

  48. SmartTechPeople.com posted 01/18/2014

    SmartTechPeople.com…

    […]we came across a cool site which you may get pleasure from. Take a search when you want[…]…

  49. http://johnsonlawgroup.info posted 01/19/2014

    Souls in the Waves…

    Excellent Early morning, I just stopped in to visit your website and assumed I would say I enjoyed myself….

  50. The Absent Game…

    Involving me and my husband we have owned far more MP3 players over time than I can count, like Sansas, iRivers, iPods (basic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few a long time I’ve settled down to one line of players….

Post a New Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

c