Simple gravlax recipe

I was at Monuts in Durham recently, where I had a delicious sandwich featuring house cured gravlax, creamy cucumbers, and pickled radishes (I think). I really wasn’t sure what gravlax was, but I knew it was something akin to smoked salmon — we always called it lox in my house.

Something in the back of my mind said, maybe I could do this. So I gave it a try. After analyzing dozens of gravlax and smoked salmon recipes on the internet, I ended up using this 1998 version from The New York Times. The title of the article said it all, “Gravlax Without Fear: A Stunning Dish Just Looks Hard.”

What I’ve come to find out about gravlax is there are a lot of ways to approach this piece of fish that is not cooked, but instead, is cured with sugar and salt. I went out of my way to purchase a good piece of salmon (about 1 pound) at Publix, and started the process. After I got my piece ready, I read some recipes that suggested freezing the fish first to kill any parasites that might be lurking inside. Yuk. And too late. Well, I eat a lot of sushi so I figured I’d be okay. (So far I am.)

I read you have to press the fish while it cures with a board topped by cans or something similar to weigh the fish down and help it release its moisture. I read that you cut the fish in half and press the two halves together so the skin side is up on both sides with the sugar/salt mixture in between. I read that you have to turn it several times during the curing process, which could last from two to five days. You can add vodka, herbs, etc, or you could keep it simple.

I chose to forego the pressing, the turning, and the varied ingredients (and the freezing, which I just might do for safety’s sake next time). I coated the flesh side of the fish (which I did not cut in half, by the way) with A LOT of sugar and salt and chopped, fresh dill. Then I wrapped it in plastic, and left it alone for about 48 hours. I didn’t turn it (although I probably would next time). A lot of rather thick liquid, almost like a gel, came out of the fish and into the casserole dish I was using to house it while in the fridge.

Once I rinsed off the sugar and salt, I sliced it thinly. I slathered vegetable cream cheese on a ritz cracker and laid some salmon on top. It was delicious. I ate it every morning for breakfast on a whole wheat english muffin with some capers.

If you like Nova, lox, smoked salmon, or whatever you want to call it, you have to try it.  I will definitely be making this again. However, next time I won’t be so thorough about the rinsing because it would have been a little more salty and dill-like. I’ll also layer on the dill first, then add the sugar and salt. I might even experiment with brown sugar instead of white, or sprinkling a little vodka on the fish first like they do in Norway. So many new things to try!


Grilled salmon and summer corn salad

grilled salmon and cornWhile I would love to say that I buy everything organic from the farmer’s market down the street, I can’t lie. We are Costco regulars. It’s hard to beat the prices and the convenience. Buying in bulk, however, is not ideal. That was the problem with the corn. My husband came home with 8 ears of it. We ate 4 ears one night and it was delicious – I sprayed it with olive oil, grilled it, then sprinkled on the salt. No butter needed. However, I knew those other ears would go bad quick.

Enter salmon. We used to buy huge fresh slab of salmon when we went to Costco. Then my nephew told me to try the frozen fish. What a find! You can buy individually wrapped salmon fillets in the freezer section (there are several different types of fish to try). Now we have fresh fish at least once a week.

Here’s comes the fun part. I found this simple recipe at Kitchen Culinaire. We have organic greens (from Costco again), so it worked perfectly.

I made a few tweaks – had 4 ears of corn instead of 3 and added only 1 avocado. Don’t stress about the mustard. I had a chile-infused mustard my brother gave me. It worked wonders.

corn tomato and avocado salad

Since everything is better with bacon, I microwaved 4 or 5 slices and crumbled them over the top at the end.

corn, tomato and avocado saladMy husband actually ate this scrumptious concoction on a roll. Not a bad idea.

After dinner, I flaked the leftover salmon and added it to the corn when I put away the leftovers. The next day, I sprinkled some feta over the top for my lunch. I just couldn’t resist.

Will you try it? This is a light, healthy, delicious way to celebrate the bounties of summer. Even if those bounties do come from Costco.

Cantaloupe gazpacho

When summer comes, I eat gazpacho for lunch almost every week. It’s the most versatile soup. You can create it the traditional way, with tomatoes, a cucumber and a red pepper – I’ll post that recipe soon. However, since I eat it so much, I am always on the lookout for new ways to puree raw foods so I can combine them with flavors that make them outstanding.

This week I was inspired to make cantaloupe gazpacho. I first got the idea from this Food 52 post. However, it just looked like too much work. Soaking bread, crunching up almonds…it sounds great but I just didn’t feel like going to that much effort. So I kept looking. I came up with this post from Bon Appetit which looked great, but didn’t have great reviews. Still, I figured I’d give it a try and put my own spin on it.

cantaloupe gazpachoHere’s my twist: replace the water with rice wine vinegar (as one of the revieweres recommended).  Then add some honey to give it a little more sweetness. And, you can’t have sweet without spicy, in my opinion. So I had to add a swirl of siracha. I can’t eat anything without siracha.

It came out fantastic. Watch how much salt you add if you are sensitive. Add less until you get the right balance. This one’s a keeper.





Pork Banh Mi

I have wanted to eat a pork sandwich that combines French and Vietnamese influences ever since I saw it on the Great American Food Truck Race.But every recipe looks way too complicated. I have no fear of brining, which many recipes call for, but I just didn’t have the time. Then I found this recipe on Food52. It’ offered a simple and fast way to marinate and grill the pork. The recipe for the pickled radishes and onions scared me a little since it looked like way too much liquid. Instead, I cooked down 1/2 cup of cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of water, 4 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Let me tell you, the sweet and savory crunch of the radishes, combined with the salty, sweet pork, was absolutely divine. Slather some good mayonaise on your French bread, pile on the pork, radishes, fresh jalapenos, sliced cucumbers and cilantro leaves.

We took these sandwiches to the beach to celebrate Father’s Day and they were a hit! Let me know if you try it.