Lox, gravlax and smoked salmon are as much a staple in my house as pasta and rice. In the morning, on bagels, for breakfast; added to omelettes, salads or served as an appetizer with pumpernickel at lunch or dinner or, probably my favorite use, on pasta with just some butter, lemon and pepper.
If you have ever wondered what the difference between the three is, here is a quick primer:
Lox (from the Yiddish laks) is never cooked but cured with salt. Typically, it’s the belly of the salmon;
Gravlax, which originates in Scandinavia, is made with the same salmon belly and it is also cured, with a mixture of salt and sugar and lots of dill;
Smoked salmon is also cured with a salt brine but can be any part of the salmon and, as the name implies, it’s also smoked.
It’s so ridiculously easy to make lox or gravlax that I sometimes wonder why I bother buying the pre-packaged stuff.
Start with a nice piece of salmon. Ask for the belly, skin on. A pound (about 450 g) will get you far and, as an appetizer, will serve 6 to 8 people.
You want to begin the curing process a couple of days before you are planning to serve it.
In a bowl, mix 1/3 cup of kosher salt (or other coarse salt) and about 1/2 cup of sugar. Rub the mixture on both sides of the fish and place it in a baking dish or other flat pan over a bed of dill. Cover it with more dill and place a film of plastic wrap over it, leaving it hanging over the sides. Place a dish on top and some cans to keep the dish pressing down. Refrigerate for 48 hours, turning the fish once or twice each day. Longer than 48 hours will make the fish a bit too dry for my taste.
When ready to serve, remove the dill and rinse the fish under cold water. Pat dry, slice and serve with your favorite condiments.