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Make Your Own Lox -- A Perfect Pairing for Sparkling Wine

 

We have all seen it packaged in the store or on that Sunday buffet — lox, which is salmon cured in salt, also known as gravlax. The process of making it originated with fisherman in the middle ages who would pack the salmon in salt and bury it in the sand above the tide line. The word "gravlax" translates literally to "buried salmon." In those days long ago the salmon actually fermented, but today the process is really curing – and it's very easy to do yourself. Not only does it taste a heck of a lot better than the stuff you get in thin slices at the grocery store, it's cheaper by an incredible amount. The only thing left to do once you're done curing your own lox is to make sure you have plenty of a chilled sparkling wine on hand – though you could also opt for a lighter-styled Pinot Noir. Believe me: You will never again buy lox in the grocery store once you learn to make your own.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 pound filet of fresh salmon
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, ground coriander and black peppercorns
  • 1 bunch fresh dill

Start by mixing salt, sugar and spices together in a bowl. Cut your salmon filet in half.

Coat each filet with generous amounts of the curing mixture, pressing it gently into the fish. Add a generous amount of dill directly on one of the filets and then stack the other filet on top, like a sandwich. Any leftover dry ingredients can be massaged on top of the skin.

Wrap the salmon stack tightly in saran wrap and place in a pan with sides to catch all of the juices – they will leak out, no matter how tightly you wrap the salmon. Place a bowl or something heavy on the filets to weigh them down (I use a brick, but a cast iron pan will work, too).

Place the salmon in the refrigerator for 3 days, flipping the it over after 36 hours, and placing the weight back on top. After about 24 hours you will see a fair amount of liquid in the pan as the salt does its magic and starts pulling moisture out from the fish. Once fully cured, remove from the refrigerator and unwrap the filets to expose the filets. Be sure to do this over the sink. Remove dill and discard.

No need to rinse – just place the fish on a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, cut thin pieces of salmon on a 45° angle. You can certainly serve this with a traditional dill and mustard sauce, but I like to put out a nice greek feta, adding capers, red onions and a dark pumpernickel bread.

This is perfect to make on a Wednesday night, then serve as an appetizer for that dinner party on Saturday! You'll also have plenty left for bagels and cream cheese on Sunday.