Gravlax

Serves 8 or more, depending on how many other dishes are served

Ingredients

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon grains of paradise (you can substitute with black peppercorns)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup sea salt

2 bunches of dill

2 tablespoons Absolut Citron vodka (or regular vodka)

1 1/2 to 2 pounds salmon belly, pin bones removed


Preparation

Lightly toast fennel seeds and grains of paradise. When cool, crush them together in a mortar and pestle.


In a bowl mix together the fennel seeds, grains of paradise, both sugars and salt.


Place half of the dill fronds in a pile the size of the salmon in a baking dish just large enough to hold the salmon. Sprinkle half of the curing mixture on the dill. Then set the fish on top. Sprinkle the vodka over the salmon and then press in the rest of the cure. Top with the remaining dill fronds to cover the fish. 


Cover the fish with plastic wrap. Place another, smaller baking dish on the fish and put a brick or two cans into that dish. 


Refrigerate for 24 hours, then remove the weights and turn the fish. Put the weights back on the fish and refrigerate another 24 hours.


When you're ready to serve, remove the fish from the refrigerator, remove the weights, and remove the plastic wrap. Discard the dill and rinse the fish under cold water, then pat dry.


Using a very sharp knife, slice the gravlax as thinly as you can at a diagonal. If the salmon still has skin on it, slice away from the skin and discard the skin once the salmon is sliced. 


Serve with lemon, diced red onion, capers--and a whipped cheese--on brown bread, pumpernickel, crackers, or a bagel.


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