Home for the Holidays 2003

See Also
Side Dishes

The Chef
Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit and Riingo

Serves 10 to 12.

1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cracked white peppercorns
2 1/2 to 3 pounds fresh, skin-on salmon fillet, in one piece, any pin bones removed
2 to 3 large bunches fresh dill, coarsely chopped, including stems

Mustard Sauce:
2 tablespoons honey mustard
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon strong black coffee, cold
3/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

Cooking Instructions
Mix together the salt, sugar, and peppercorns in a small bowl. Rub a handful of the mixture on both sides of the salmon, place it in a shallow dish, and sprinkle with the remaining salt mixture. Cover the salmon with the dill, and allow to stand in a cool spot (but not in the refrigerator) for six hours. Cover with plastic wrap, transfer to the refrigerator, and allow to cure for 36 hours.

Wipe the seasonings from the salmon with a paper towel. Cut the gravlax on the bias into thin slices, or leave whole for your guests to slice. Serve with thin slices of whole-grain bread and mustard sauce (recipe below). (The gravlax will keep in the refrigerator for a week if well wrapped in foil and plastic, and in the freezer for two months.)

Mustard Sauce:
Combine the mustards, sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper, and coffee in a blender. With the machine running, gradually add the oil in a very slow, steady stream, until the mixture is thick and creamy. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, and stir in the dill. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight to allow the flavors to mingle. (Can be prepared up to one day ahead.)

Recommended Wines
California Chardonnay, such as Newton, or champagne, such as Charles Heidsieck. 

Best With
Roast leg of lamb with mashed potatoes or roasted root vegetables; Warm chocolate cake; Gingersnaps to take home.

Photograph by William Meppem