Foods of the World Forum Homepage
Forum Home Forum Home > Other Food-Related Topics > Curing of Meats, Charcuterie and Smokehouse Specialties
  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - Gravlax for SuperBowl - 2011
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

This site is completely supported by donations; there are no corporate sponsors. We would be honoured if you would consider a small donation, to be used exclusively for forum expenses.



Thank you, from the Foods of the World Forums!

Gravlax for SuperBowl - 2011

 Post Reply Post Reply
Author
Message
TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 25 January 2010
Location: Chinook, MT
Status: Offline
Points: 9301
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Gravlax for SuperBowl - 2011
    Posted: 26 January 2011 at 13:03
looking at the calendar, i realize it has been about a year since i first made and tried gravlax ~ with that in mind, i decided today to give it another go. besides, the superbowl is coming up again and perhaps it will be come a tradition? also, i was regretful when i saw that dave had such a disappointing experience, and hopefully i might be able to see if i can narrow down where the problem might have been, if any.
 
NOTE - if anyone wants to give this a try, click here for information on selecting salmon and preparing gravlax, as well as additional step-by-step pictures and instructions:
 
 
the posts below will outline the process as well, and have other useful information, so i recommend reading both threads. 

FOOD SAFETY - When selecting salmon for this project, there are a few things you should know in order to be safe, as there is a very slight, but genuine, danger of food-borne illness and parasites in choosing poorly. After all, we are talking about raw fish here, and even though raw fish is commonly eaten all over the world, that is no reason not to exercise some common sense and good judgment.

First, if you are trying to choose between wild-caught or farm-raised salmon, keep this in mind:

Quote "What's counter-intuitive to most cooks is that farm-raised salmon is much safer to eat raw than wild salmon. Farm-raised salmon is served pellet food, which is ground-up, processed fish meat. Any parasites in the fish meat are killed in the processing and grinding stages. Since salmon only obtains dangerous to humans parasites via food, farm-raised salmon simply isn't exposed to them. So, next time you use salmon for gravlax, tartar, or sashimi, go for the farm-raised stuff. When the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations tested various fish for parasites in 2003, no parasites were found in any farm-raised salmon species , whereas parasites were frequently found in wild salmon (section 5.1.4 of Huss et al., 2003).

Whether you ultimately choose wild-caught or farm-raised salmon, either will be free of potential food-borne illness and safe for consumption, if they have been properly frozen.  In doing some research on this, all sources seem to agree that commercial packagers of salmon freeze it to 40 degrees below zero (F or C is the same at that temperature) as an industry standard, specifically to eliminate the possibility of parasites. If you are using commercially-packaged salmon, you will have no worries of food-borne illness. Even if you store your commercially-packaged salmon in your home freezer, and it is only at zero degrees, the thing to remember is that it was brought down to 40 below at the packaging center, and any danger was eliminated then and there.

If you are using wild, fresh-caught salmon that has never been frozen as per industry standards, then there is some small chance of food-borne illness and that you really might be playing Russian roulette, but no more so than anyone who eats raw clams, oysters, ceviche etc, as far as I can see. A trusted friend with many years of experience in the food safety industry put it this way:

Quote To put all this in perspective, the risk you take downhill skiing is an order of magnitude greater than the risk of eating raw, not previously frozen fish. Whether that risk is worth it is up to you. I hate downhill skiing and I love raw fish, so you can guess which risks I choose to take. In fact, the risk of driving or just walking down the street is probably higher than the risk of eating raw fish. I know plenty of people who were in life-threatening car accidents, and I am yet to meat a person who got infected by anisakis simplex or tapeworm. And let me tell you, I get way more pleasure from a bowl of sashimi than my morning commute.

The bottom line is that it is up to you, the individual reader of this post, to decide whether to try this or not - but if you ask my opinion, I will tell you that this stuff is too good to simply dismiss simply because you think you might be choosing between "taking a chance" or missing out on what is definitely some very good, traditional Scandinavian eating. When good judgment is combined with proper preparation, this product is no more or less dangerous than any other food prepared at home.
 
Please note that this all refers to salt-water fish. I absolutely would not consider making gravlax, sushi or sashimi out of freshwater fish that I had caught and packaged myself. For those, I would brine and hot-smoke to a safe temperature of 140 degrees. There might be a safe length of time to hold them at zero degrees F - say, 30 days - but I won't try it until I know for sure.

i've just returned from wal-mart, where i purchased a few things that weren't already on hand, including a frozen whole-side fillet of salmon similar to the one i used last time. the only real difference this time is that i will use sea salt rather than kosher salt, since i decided that's what "they" would have had to use. i also decided to try using the vacuum sealer this time - since i wrapped in saran wrap last time - in order to see if there is any significant difference. finally, i am hoping to reserve one half-fillet for smoking so that i may try the famous and wonderful stuff known as lox.
 
the salmon fillet is thawing in the fridge now, so i will report back when i am ready to prepare - wish me luck!
If you are a visitor and like what you see, please click here and join the discussions in our community!
Back to Top
Sponsored Links


Back to Top
Guests View Drop Down
Guest Group
Guest Group
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 January 2011 at 14:52
Sounds good, so you're making one quarter salmon each, then?  Lox is cured before cold smoking; have a cure recipe in mind? That sounds real tasty, I've never made lox before, but I love the taste from the store ones. Good luck on the project and keep us posted!
Back to Top
TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 25 January 2010
Location: Chinook, MT
Status: Offline
Points: 9301
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 January 2011 at 15:25
john, that's right - i'll be doing exactly the same as last time, taking half a salmon, then making two gravlax fillets out of it. one of those fillets will be served during the superbowl and the other will become lox.
 
as for the cure and smoking, the sea salt and sugar will provide that. whenever i smoke fish, the only cure involved comes from brining in equal parts salt and sugar, with other flavours added at my discretion (in this case, CBP and dill). tenderquick etc is of course an option, but is not required and will not be used. my reading supports the fact that salt and sugar working together provide a more-than-adequate cure. also, it is generally agreed that that's what "they" used when making gravlax, and basically, lox is simply smoked gravlax.
 
speaking of sugar, i will once again use raw (turbinado) sugar, since i figure this is the closest widely-available sugar to what would have been used back in the day. the larger grains of the turbinado will also go well with the coarse peppercorns and sea salt that will be used.
 
regarding the peppercorns, i decided to get a mixed "peppercorn medley" from mccormick on the grounds that pepper that had traveled up to scandinavia (via trade routes) would probably not be the pure, black-only pepper that would be found closer to the source; rather, i figured it would most likely be comprised of a few different varieties of peppercorn (white, green, pink etc) to reflect the traders' effort to provide a "full load" at the far end of their route; kind of the equivalent of dumping the last few shakes of any given bbq rub into a common container in the back of the shelf that is eventually used when it is full.
 
for the dill, i have both fresh and dried dill and will most likely use a little of both, as i did last time. being mid-winter up here, the dill available is not the greenest and featheriest that it can be, but this is a reflection of using what is available. it stands to reason that back in the day, folks would have summplemented any substandard or unavailable fresh dill with dried dill from their stores. when the time comes to make this, i will stick with the fresh dill if there appears to be enough; but if not, i will give a light dusting of dried dill weed if necessary, after the salt and pepper. regardless, i will try to reserve some fresh dill for the hovmästarsåsgravlaxsås. i elected not to use dill seed as dave mentioned a bitterness in his gravlax, which i think may have come from seed. my reasoning behind this is that when canned tomatoes have an abundance of seeds, there can be a bitterness that comes from them, possibly a result of the salting and/or storage, i am not sure. also, i have heard that cucumber seeds can impose a bitterness in dishes where cucumbers are used.
If you are a visitor and like what you see, please click here and join the discussions in our community!
Back to Top
TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 25 January 2010
Location: Chinook, MT
Status: Offline
Points: 9301
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 January 2011 at 21:26
i am thinking tuesday or wednesday might be the time to do this.
 
i bought the salmon fillet during the noon hour @ work, and kept it in the fridge there. i thought that the fillet would have thawed out over the afternoon, but it was still frozen solid, so i put it in the freezer at home.
 
i will take it out monday night and prepare the gravlax when it is thawed, most likely wednesday. i thought that prepping it while frozen might be an idea, so that it could thaw while it was curing - but decided against it.
If you are a visitor and like what you see, please click here and join the discussions in our community!
Back to Top
TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 25 January 2010
Location: Chinook, MT
Status: Offline
Points: 9301
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 January 2011 at 08:41
due to an incredible bout of inclement weather we are experiencing, i will most likely not smoke the other fillet, so i have made arrangements to share it with a friend. i figured i might as well spread the gravlax gospel!Wink
If you are a visitor and like what you see, please click here and join the discussions in our community!
Back to Top
TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 25 January 2010
Location: Chinook, MT
Status: Offline
Points: 9301
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 February 2011 at 21:50
alright, it's made and sitting in the fridge under some weight. preparation was pretty much identical to last year's, except for the vacuum sealing.
 
here's all you need:
  • non-iodized salt - 1/4 cup
  • sugar 1/4 cup (i used turbinado "sugar in the raw," guessing that this would be closer to what they had in the days of yore
  • freshly-ground black pepper - 2 TBSP
  • 1 large bunch of fresh dill
  • 1 fillet of salmon
the "goods" are identical to what i used last year, except i used a freshly-cracked multi-coloured peppercorn medley rather than black. also, i was able to use all fresh dill since i bought two bunches of it. neither by themselves had enough "good" dill to be enough, but together, i was able to get a good bunch.
 
here's the salmon fillet:
 
 
and the salt/sugar/pepper curing mixture:
 
 
and the coarsely-chopped fresh dill:
 
 
here on the left you can see one fillet with half the curing mixture plus the dill - i then put about half the remaining curing mixture directly on the other fillet as pictured here:
 
 
then after taking this shot, i spread the other half of the remaining curing mixture on top of the dill - then sandwiched them together. the important thing when sandwiching them together is to put the thickest part of one fillet up against the thinnest part of the other fillet, skin side out.
 
after that, i vacuum-sealed the two fillets together. this was a bit of a messy job, but i think it will prove to be well worth the effort, since the vacuum suction will continue to "pull" the juices out of the fillets, leaving behind the cured goodness that the swedes discovered.
 
 
then, i put the sealed fillets into a glass baking dish, and weighted the package down with another glass baking dish and a box of rock salt. i'll flip and rotate periodically between now and sunday, but it looks like it's going to be really good!
If you are a visitor and like what you see, please click here and join the discussions in our community!
Back to Top
Hoser View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 06 February 2010
Location: Cumberland, RI
Status: Offline
Points: 3453
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 February 2011 at 02:07
It looks wonderful Taz....not my cup of tea perhaps, but you're doing a bang-up job.
I'm sure your guests will love it!
Go ahead...play with your food!
Back to Top
TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 25 January 2010
Location: Chinook, MT
Status: Offline
Points: 9301
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 February 2011 at 07:26
thanks, dave - i am thinking that, at least where flavour is concerned, yours may have suffered from dill-overload; not only from the seeds as described above, but it also occurred to me that the dried dill is going to be much more concentrated than the fresh. this may explain some of the taste problems you were having, but of course, the texture is what it is, and if it's not for you, then it's not for you!
If you are a visitor and like what you see, please click here and join the discussions in our community!
Back to Top
TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 25 January 2010
Location: Chinook, MT
Status: Offline
Points: 9301
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 February 2011 at 07:22
well, even though this was only my second attempt, i'd say it went off very well. here we are all sliced up thinly and laid out with some saltines:
 
 
once again, i did not rinse off the fillets, i simply scraped off the dill and dabbed with paper towels. the gravlax was firm and while it was not dry, it certainly was not wet, either.
 
the taste was exactly what gravlax should be, a well-balanced blend of salty, sweet, spicy from the pepper with the dill pushing the taster right into the fjords of scandinavia. there was a slight, pleasant salmon flavour that evoked days at sea in a longship or nights in a dining hall toasting the gods of valhalla. texture was not unlike a thinly-sliced, cured ham.
 
 
near as i can tell, this was classic, textbook gravlax with no complications at all. as for becoming a superbowl tradition, who knows? the family was split on this - the folks who love it, love it. but the folks who don't consider it a waste of time and money.
 
If you are a visitor and like what you see, please click here and join the discussions in our community!
Back to Top
Hoser View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 06 February 2010
Location: Cumberland, RI
Status: Offline
Points: 3453
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 February 2011 at 08:26
Nice job Ron...beautiful gravlax...I hope you enjoyed the outcome of the game as well.
Go ahead...play with your food!
Back to Top
TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 25 January 2010
Location: Chinook, MT
Status: Offline
Points: 9301
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 February 2011 at 09:02
thanks, dave -
 
as for the game, yes, it went very well! i picked the yellow team!Wink
 
lol, seriously, i did pick green bay, out of respect for the heart and soul i had seen throughout the season. the beautiful mrs. tas picked the steelers, so it was a battle to the end.
If you are a visitor and like what you see, please click here and join the discussions in our community!
Back to Top
Guests View Drop Down
Guest Group
Guest Group
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 February 2011 at 13:36
Wow, what beautiful gravlax! You sure did a great job making it Ron and those slices looked deee-licious! Clap Definitely appealing for a Superbowl tradition, I'm just sorry that I didn't start one myself. I will next year though.
Back to Top
TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 25 January 2010
Location: Chinook, MT
Status: Offline
Points: 9301
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 February 2011 at 13:46
i really liked the taste and texture of this one, john. the one i made last year was good, but it seemed a little more moist, possibly close to mushy, in comparison to this one. as you may recall, last year's attempt was a bit rushed, and the extra curing time that this one enjoyed might have helped some. my only regret is that due to the thin-ness of the fillet, it was difficult to slice the gravlax as thinly as i would have preferred - but i don't think quality suffered at all.
 
my next attempt might feature cracked mustard seeds. for some reason, i am sure that these would have been found in some traditional renderings of gravlax, as dill and mustard go so well together, and both could be obtained in scandinavia.
If you are a visitor and like what you see, please click here and join the discussions in our community!
Back to Top
Guests View Drop Down
Guest Group
Guest Group
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 February 2011 at 14:36
cracked mustard seeds sound perfect. I can't imagine why they wouldn't be traditional, since northern France is known for mustard, and the Scandinavians certainly traded or raided the region. No worries on the thickness of the filet, next time just look for a thicker one. It looked nice to me!
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down



This page was generated in 0.094 seconds.