I just made some Gravlax with Hovmästarsås, cured salmon with mustard-dill sauce and Glasmästarsill, pickled herring with carrots, leeks and red onion. Both are now curing and pickling in the refrigerator for a couple of days, to be served on the 24th of December. Christmas Eve is the day Swedes celebrate Christmas with a fantastic food buffet, a true SwedishSmörgåsbord, with different kinds of herring and salmon, meatballs, beet-sallad, sausages, ribs, Jansons Frestelse-a potato gratin dish with anchovy (creamy and delicious), among other things, and of course a ham.
I make gravlax every Christmas and Midsummer. It's easy to make ahead of time and always a crowd pleaser. I love to serve the gravlax with the mustard-dill sauce on a slice of gluten-free pumpernickel bread or on a crackers, along with a glass of Champagne!
I haven't made the pickled herring in years. Instead I've bought a jar of herring at IKEA or at the food market. Not the same, not by a long shot! This year, I knew it was time to revive my mother's old recipe. I have really missed the authentic flavor of the fish, carrot and onions cured in a spicy and sweet brine. The herring fillets need 2 days to pickle and will then lasts up to a month in the refrigerator. Delicious on crackers or served with steamed potatoes.
Gravad Lax ~ Swedish Style Cured Salmon
with Mustard-Dill Sauce
2 pounds fresh salmon, center cut*
1 large bunch of dill, coarsely shopped
4 tbsp kosher salt
4 tbsp sugar
2 tsp whole white peppercorns, crushed
Mustard-Dill Sauce, recipe follows
Cut the salmon in half crosswise and place half the fish skin side down in a deep dish. Wash and towel dry the dill. Combine the salt, sugar, and crushed peppercorns in a small bowl and rub a third of the mixture over one piece of fish. Rub another third on top of the second piece of fish.
Put the dill on the bottom piece of fish and place the other half of salmon over the dill, skin side up. Match thick end of top salmon piece with thin end of the bottom piece. Rub the skin of both fish halves with the last third of the mixture.
Place the salmon in a large plastic bag, ziploc bag works well, and seal. Move to a dish. Put a weight on top of the fish, a heavy can or platter works fine. Refrigerate the salmon for at least 1 1/2 and up to 2 1/2 days, turning it every 8-12 hours. After 1 1/2 days, remove and taste the gravlax to see if it's done. You want a smooth, silky salmon, but not too salty. If the salmon is not finished curing, reseal bag and return to fridge.
To serve: Lay each piece of salmon flat on a cutting board, remove the dill, and salt-sugar mixture. With a long thin slicing knife, slice the salmon in thin slices as you would for smoked salmon. Serve with gluten-free crispbread and mustard-dill sauce. Sprinkle som fresh dill on top. Enjoy!
3 tbsp mustard
3 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup fresh dill, shopped
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
1/8 - 1/4 tsp Kosher salt, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor, except the oil. While blending, slowly add the oil through the upper opening of the food processor. Blend until you have a smooth and creamy sauce. Or blend together in a medium-sized bowl. Slowly adding the oil to all the other ingredients, while whisking vigorously. Serve with the gravlax.
*Freeze the fresh salmon for at least 2 days before defrosting and curing. This kills of any potential parasites.
Mamma's Glasmästarsill ~ Swedish Pickled Herring
1 lb natural herring/Matjes fillets*
3 cups white vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp whole white peppercorns, crushed
3 bay leaves
15 whole cloves
6 tsp whole allspice, crushed
1 bunch or fresh dill, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large red onion, sliced
1 leek, sliced
Rinse the herring fillets under cold water. Place the fillets in a container of cold water and chill in the refrigerator for one hour.
Heat up the vinegar with the sugar and all the spices. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let the brine cool to room temperature.
Remove the herring from fridge and drain out the water. Cut the fillets in 1" pieces. Layer the herring in a large glass jar with the sliced onion, leeks, carrots and dill.
Pour the brine into the glass jar, making sure to cover the top layer with the liquid. Seal the jar and place in the refrigerator. Wait at least 2 days before eating.
*You can find whole or sliced Matjes fillets in jars, in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores.
Photos by Anna Simon unless otherwise specified; www.cookcheif.com, recipe.openoutcome.org.