I love smoked salmon. In recent years, farmed salmon has made it possible to consume the one-time delicacy on a pretty regular basis. Costco sells a variety of excellent brands (both Atlantic and Pacific varieties) for about $12 CDN (10 USD) for 500 grams (a little over a pound). However, I prefer framed Atlantic salmon from New Brunswick which is usually thicker and fattier, making for a very luscious end-product.
Let’s get one thing clear, making your own smoked salmon or gravlax will not save you any money, especially when you figure in the herbs (lots of fresh dill), liquid smoke, etc. It will however produce a product with a quite different (and superior, IMHO) flavor and texture, due largely to the small batch size and hand-made quality…not to mention the gratification that comes from producing something this good by yourself.
And nothing could be easier. Here’s how:
- If using fresh salmon, freeze it for about a week to kill off the parasites that are sometimes present in all salmon. If using frozen salmon, thaw and use it right away. I make half a large fillet at a time (about 2 lbs.) because that lasts about a week in our house of intense salmon lovers.
- Make a mixture of 1/2 cup sugar and one cup of coarse salt. Add a generous tablespoon of dried dill weed. Put the mixture in a covered Tupperware container and shake it for 30 seconds to mix everything together.
Take a long and fairly deep (2-6 in.) container (like a rectangular Tupperware-type plastic tub) and sprinkle about half of the sugar/salt mixture on the bottom. Place the fish flesh side down onto this base. Skinless salmon also works fine, in which case it doesn’t matter which side you put down.
-Cover with the remaining 1/2 of the salt mixture. Lay some plastic wrap directly onto the fish right to the edges of the tub but not cloning to the edges since that would prevent the weights from pressing down on the salmon. If you have a second, identical container (they usually come 2-3 in a boxed assortment) lay this container on top of the plastic wrap and put some heavy cans in it to weigh down the salmon and help push the water out of its tissues. I use a heavy patio stone which is just the right size. Otherwise you can just lay your weights directly on the plastic wrap (it’s a little messier this way). REFRIGERATE.
Weighted down – note container on top of container
-About 24 hrs later, you can remove the plastic wrap, rinse the salmon gently under cold running water, pat dry, and you’re ready to thinly slice and eat it. Keep the unused portion in the fridge at all times.
Finished and sliced on the bias