Gravlax, Part 2
The Saveur magazine article I'm getting this from also included a recipe for gravlaxsås, a mustard/dill/cream sauce. I decided to try that as well, as it sounded like a semi-mayo or semi-aioli (minus egg), and that can't be bad.
I tried to make a half recipe, which would start with a tablespoon of mustard, a half-tablespoon of lemon juice, a half tablespoon of red wine vinegar, mixed together with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil.
A half-tablespoon or so of finely chopped dill is added
Then, a tablespoon of heavy cream is beaten to stiff peaks:
Some sugar is added, then the cream is stirred in
I chilled the sauce, then moved on to the gravlax. I stripped a bunch of dill
Then finally unwrapped the gravlax. You can see on the plate where the clingwrap wasn't waterproof -- there was quite a bit of liquid.
I washed off the salt/sugar/spice/dill mixture and patted dry with a paper towel, and trimmed off some skin along the side, and covered with the fresh dill
The meat looked really good. Very red, and very firm, like a hard sausage. I didn't see any parts that were still soft and raw-looking. There was a pretty pronounced caraway smell, but not hugely so.
I cut off the end, then starting cutting semi-thin slices on a strong bias.
I served chunks of gravlax on crackers -- Ritz, actually, but that's all I had in the house -- with the gravlaxsås in a bowl in the center.
Verdict: I really, really liked the gravlax. Personally, if/when I make this again, I'll skip the caraway. It wasn't bad, it wasn't even annoying, but there was that rye-bread taste to it somewhere in the background that just isn't me, and it's easy enough to remove. The taste was salty and sweet as well, and the texture was a dryish-chewy, but not jerky chewy. Firmer than cooked meat, but not hard. I was groping for similarities -- chorizo, pastrami, bacon -- when it finally hit me. It's salmon prosciutto. The salty-sweet, the chewiness lending itself better as a thin shaving than a thick chunk, the silky meatiness of it. I probably cut the pieces a little too thick, but it was a first-time mistake... I didn't know what to expect. If I was in prosciutto-mode, I would have caught on.
The sauce was actually a disappointment to me. I think it misses something without the egg. If I made a dill aioli with egg yolk and garlic, I would have liked it better. As-is, it's a little too acidic (which might be helped with less vinegar) and, while not necessarily bland with the dill and mustard, it seemed to be missing something to my palate. Far be it from me to criticize a classic pairing, though. In the future, I might take the technique and maybe fusion it a bit.
Overall, though, a fun experiment, and I still have a pound or so left over, wrapped tightly in the fridge in a freezer bag.