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A whole salmon Gravadlax is a great centerpiece for any table when having friends around for dinner. I’ve used fennel, beetroot and blood oranges to transform this traditional Scandinavian dish into a visual and culinary delight that tastes as good as it looks.
1-1.2kg fillet of salmon (pin boned, skin on)
6 tablespoons flaky sea salt
2 tablespoons of soft brown sugar
1.5 tablespoons finely grated horseradish (or purchase grated horseradish)
3 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds (dill is an alternative)
The zest & juice of 1 blood orange (a naval orange is fine)
3 tablespoons gin
4 tablespoons grated beetroot
250g sour cream (or crème fraiche)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fennel fronds (or dill)
1 loaf of rye bread
3-4 handfuls of misto insalate (a mixture of fine lettuce leaves and herbs)
To prepare the Salmon
Place the salmon skin side down in a large rectangular dish (or use a shallow roasting tray like I did) sprinkle the salt evenly over the fish along with the brown sugar and rub all over the salmon. Grate over the horseradish, beetroot & orange zest so the salmon flesh is completely covered, sprinkle over the chopped fennel fronds then drizzle over the gin, and the juice of the blood orange and pat all the ingredients down gently onto the fish. Cover with plastic wrap and place another tray over the top then weigh it down with a heavy casserole pot, or use 3-4 bricks. Leave in the fridge for 48 hours to cure.
After 2 days, remove it from the fridge; wipe off all the curing ingredients making sure the salmon is dry. Place on a chopping board and remove the skin from the salmon by holding the tail end firmly, use a sharp knife to make a cut between the flesh and skin in the opposite direction from the tail end.
Holding the end tightly, continue to cut along the length of the fillet (take care not to cut through the skin). Remove and discard skin.
To make the starters
In a bowl mix together the sour cream, lemon juice, the chopped chives and fennel fronds, mix until combined, season with freshly ground pepper and sea salt.
Cut very thin slices of the rye bread and toast them lightly.
On each slice of toasted rye bread place some lettuce, two very thinly sliced pieces of the cured salmon, top with sour cream and garnish with small fennel fronds and a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Goes beautifully with chilled Pinot Grit.