Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Illicit luxury lone dining

So apparently we are in a double dip recession, to be honest I have no idea what this means. I just know that most people are pretty skint and graphs showing the country's descent into an even deeper economic downturn looks like a reversed sign for a humped back bridge. Dining out and eating fancy foods have been somewhat curbed recently due to moving into a new ex council flat near Broadway Market in Hackney. My life's been a bit hectic in the past months what with the move, deposits, flaky landlords and of course the first weekend of Hidden Dining at Shacklewell Nights, so a treat of the culinary nature was defiantly order of the day.

Once moved into the new flat the first thing I unpacked was my collection of cookbooks (I have already filled up one bookcase with them all in), while I was unpacking them I found a copy of Trina Hahnemann 's Scandinavian Cookbook that had been sent to me by the lovely people at Quadrille Publishing before the move out of the old flat. Since the boy wonder disappeared to Sweden six months ago, I have become somewhat intrigued about Scandinavian cooking. Tales of the best tasting  fish and kelp's that taste of the sea and tins of exploding fermented herrings in the dry store, have fuelled me to learn more about the Scandinavian cuisine.

Finding my copy of the Hahnemann's Scandinavian Cookbook, got me thinking about  and craving one of my most favourite foods - Gravalax. Gravalax is Salmon cured in a mixture of sugar, salt and dill, and is left for a few days (if you can bear the wait) for the fish to take on the cure. The Swedish use to and probably still do, bury the salmon in the ground for the curing process, as the word gravalax in Swedish means buried salmon.
The recipe is adapted from a number of sources, mainly my lovely Swedish work mate who first turned me on to the wonders of gravalax and of curing your own salmon at home and  Hugh Fernly Whittingstall through a programme of his that I had seen a few years ago.

Beetroot Gravalax

a whole salmon halved, with skin
2 bunches of fresh dill
6 raw beetroot's grated
200g sea salt
200g caster sugar, sometimes I use a half and half mixture of caster sugar and soft dark brown sugar for a more stronger tasting cure
tsp peppercorns, crushed
4 tbsp vodka

Pick out any small bones left in the salmon with tweezers. Wash, dry and roughly chop the dill. Peel and grate the raw beetroot

Mix the dill, beetroot, sea salt, sugar, pepper and vodka in a bowl  thoroughly.

Place a length of cling film on a chopping board and place on side of the salmon skin down on the length of cling film
Place  the curing mixture one one top of the salmon,  then place the other side of the salmon on top of the cure mixture with the skin side facing upwards.

Wrap the whole of the salmon with clingfilm (you will probably need more clingfilm to wrap the salmon  and refrigerate for 24 hours, turn the salmon over  and refrigerate for a further 12 to 24 hours.

Remove the fish, rinse most of the excess cure and pat dry. Finely slice and serve.

The best accompaniment  for the Gravalax is a mustard dressing made from mustard, sugar, salt, white wine vinegar and dill and a good rye crisp bread. I can thoroughly recommend Peters Yard's Swedish crispbreads, which come in big disc's perfect for sharing or if like me perfect for indulging in some indulgent illicit luxury lone dining.


  1. Finally posted after been half written since the begining of August - finally catching up on all these blogposts

  2. Love this recipe. Looks delicious .. I may have to make it fro my christmas day starter.

  3. Thanks Vanessa - such a great recipe so easy and satisfying. Will also be making it for Xmas day celebrations - must admit though it's worth investing in Peters Yards Crisp Bread's - Perfect combination