Holiday time! Oh, it’s on! There will be parties aplenty, special cocktails to make and meals to prepare! My friends, Mattias and Joakim over at Cocktail Detour, and I were chatting the other day about special things to make for celebrating the holidays. As they are over in Sweden (we still owe them a thank you for Mats Sundin, ABBA and IKEA) and I’m in Canada, we wanted to do a joint post invoking both Canada and Sweden. Gravlax combines the Canadian love of salmon with the Swedish love of cured fish. In Scandinavian countries, smoked salmon is not as popular as Gravlax (which is actually a Swedish word lax = salmon) and after trying this easy recipe, you’ll see why. Gravlax is a super luxurious item to serve and is a snap to make. You get to relax while it’s being cured. (Note: You do need a little patience – you have to wait about 48 hours before you can eat it. Think of it as a “While You Work” recipe.)
As a nod to our Canadian heritage and a salute to my Swedish friends, I decided to make some Gravlax for the holidays. (Pete, the Dane, was in full agreement!)
Relax! This recipe is also great to make ahead. It freezes really well. You can make it this weekend and put it in the freezer for holiday events, then defrost it in the fridge. Bonus: partially thawed Gravlax is actually easier to thinly slice.
I’d like to give a big shoutout to RecipeTinEats. I used their recipe and the notes were super helpful!
For this virtual party, the gentlemen at Cocktail Detour kindly decided to bring the cocktails! Head over to their blog, Facebook page or Instagram page to get the recipe! Their contribution to this post is a cocktail called Barbershop Medicine, by Jake Stavis. They chose this drink because it combines Canadian whisky with Swedish aquavit, and binds it all together with earthy ginger beer and fresh citrus juices.
Aquavit is the most common spirit during Swedish Christmas celebrations. It’s basically a vodka with spices such as caraway and dill. Usually it’s consumed as a schnapps on its own, but it also works beautifully in cocktails. In this recipe, they used O.P. Andersson, a Swedish aquavit made with caraway, fennel and anise. It’s an organic spirit, making it extra conscientious to consume.
Whisky has been produced in Canada for several hundred years. It’s typically made with corn, which gives it a smoother feel and taste compared to some other whiskies. This also means it’s perfect in cocktails. Joakim and Mattias used Dark Horse whisky, which is actually rather a rye whisky with a dollop of corn bourbon and an even smaller amount of sherry! It’s a delicious whisky to use in the Barbershop Medicine cocktail.
It’s a shame we didn’t get to enjoy this cocktail party in person! This sounds like the perfect pairing! Hoping that will happen one day, though. It would be awesome to meet you both in person!
Cheers! Skoal! Salute! To friends and the holidays!
Prep time: 5 minutes; Wait time: 48 hours; Serves: 8 – 12 people
What you need:
- 1 lb salmon, skin on and bones (including tiny pin bones) removed ***make sure you use sushi or sashimi grade
- 1/2 cup kosher (or coarse, NOT iodized) salt
- 1/2 cup sugar (I used white)
- 1/2 tbsp white peppercorns, whole
- 1/2 cup dill + extra for serving
- Mustard cream (recipe below)
- Rye bread
What you do:
- Pat your salmon dry
- Crush your peppercorn with a mortar and pestle
- In a bowl, add the salt, sugar, crushed peppercorns and dill
- Mix well
- Lay down two large overlapping pieces of Saran (cling/plastic) wrap
- Put 1/3 of the salt/sugar mix on the wrap
- Place the salmon, skin side down on the salt/sugar mix
- Add the remaining salt/sugar mix on top, making sure to cover all sides
- Wrap up tightly, put in a baking pan (I transferred mine to a disposable aluminum foil pan)
- Cover with a cutting board or another object then weigh it down (I used cans)
- Place in the fridge – your Gravlax will now start it’s Grav(RE)lax-ing!
- After 12 hours, flip the salmon over and cover, replace the weights and put back in fridge
- After 12 more hours, drain any liquid in pan, flip the salmon over and cover, replace the weights and put back in fridge
- After 12 more hours, remove from fridge
- Scrape off any leftover salt/sugar mix
- Give it a quick rinse, pat it dry and place it back in the fridge uncovered on a plate for 8 hours or overnight
- After 8 – 12 hours, remove from fridge, you can wrap it and freeze it now, or serve
- Serve on a plater with extra dill and Mustard Cream (recipe below)
- Slice thinly
- Want to make this for Sunday brunch? Start it Friday morning, turn it Friday night, turn it Saturday morning, scrape and leave it in the fridge to serve for Sunday morning
- Planning to serve this later? Wrap in Saran (cling) wrap tightly, place in a ziplock and freeze until needed! Defrost in the fridge.
Prep time: 3 minutes; Serves: 1/2 cup
What you need:
- 1/4 cup 35% cream
- 2 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp mustard powder (I used hot mustard)
- salt, pepper to taste
What you do:
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl