Welcome to this week’s Fearless Friday. It’s a chance to push against your usual culinary boundaries. We have nearly 2,000 readers here on Home-Ec101.com and with that audience there are cooks of every level. Did you try a new recipe, learn a new technique, or did you sample a new food? Whatever steps you took and wether it was a success or failure, we’d like to hear about it. If you have a blog, link using the Mr. Linky tool. If you don’t, tell everyone in the comments.
Many years ago I was a nanny for a wonderful couple. They had relatives from the Boston area who would visit from time to time, always bringing treats. One such treat was lox, a salted cured salmon often eaten on bagels with cream cheese. I may not have much of a sweet tooth, but offer me a salty snack and I’ll be your friend for life. What can I say, I’m easy. Easy going, not a word, peanut gallery.
While searching for ideas for this series, I wandered across Holy Crap I Cured Salmon on Al Forno, a blog written by one of my local culinary heroes. I thought to myself, if Robert could do it, I could certainly try.
It had been many years since I’d even had lox, with that in mind, I bought a very small piece of salmon for the experiment. I carefully checked for bones. If there had been any, they would have been removed.
I rinsed the salmon and patted it dry with a paper towel. I stirred together the brown sugar, black pepper, and kosher salt. Then pressed the mixture firmly into all sides of the salmon. I had to pause to take the picture, I thought it was a neat contrast.
Once the salmon was thickly coated on all sides, I wrapped it in plastic wrap, leaving the sides slightly open. Salmon naturally has a lot of water, the curing process draws out much of the water and it needs somewhere to go. To allow the liquid to drain off, I set the salmon on a clean lid in a dish with a curved rim. I have children who rummage in the refrigerator and I was concerned about spills. It’s annoying enough to wipe out the fridge each week without worrying about salty fish juice. On top of the fish, I placed a clean plate.
Every morning and evening I rinsed the bottom plate and flipped the filet. I did not open the saran wrap. I have to admit, by Wednesday I was beginning to eye the fish with a feeling of unease. Was this a waste of time? Was it going to be disgusting? It appeared as though the salt was gone. I began to wonder if I had coated it thickly enough, had the salt simply dripped away with the liquid?
Early this morning, I removed the fish from its wrapper and rinsed off the salt and sugar mixture. What I had not been able to see was the salt was still there, it had changed appearance enough to blend in with the fish.
After rinsing off the coating, I felt much more comfortable with the results. I toasted a bagel and sliced the lox (or gravlox) into thin slices. At this point, I realized it way past time to sharpen my knives, but what do you do?
Here’s the quick rundown if you’l like to try it at home.
Choose a nice piece of salmon, remove any bones, rinse and pat dry. For 1 lb of salmon you’ll need approximately 2 TBSP ground pepper, 2 TBSP brown sugar and 4 TBSP kosher salt. Mix and press into the filet. Wrap with plastic wrap, set on a lid or inverted saucer to allow the liquid to run off. Weight with a plate or jar. Turn every twelve hours or so for five days. Rinse, slice thinly, and enjoy.
Tell me, Home Eccers, what did you do for Fearless Friday?