A standard on our holiday table, either Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve. You don't have to buy smoked salmon - you can make your own gravlax. This version is very delicious. Count on refrigerating the gravlax with the spices and dill for 3-4 days before serving. Of Scandinavian origin.
- 2 (1 lb) salmon fillets, skin on, any pinbones removed
- 1 tablespoon caraway seed
- 2 teaspoons anise seed
- 5 juniper berries
- 1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or 1 small dried hot red chili pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1⁄2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
- 3 tablespoons aquavit or 3 tablespoons brandy or 3 tablespoons eau de vie or 3 tablespoons scotch
- Rinse the fillets in cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.
- Crush the caraway seeds, aniseed, juniper berries, red pepper flakes, and black peppercorns using a mortar and pestle.
- Or place the spices on a cutting board or other hard surface and crush them with the underside of a heavy skillet.
- Combine with the salt, sugar, and dill.
- Place one of the fillets skin side down in a deep ceramic dish just big enough to hold the fillets.
- Rub the fillet with half the spice and dill mixture.
- Rub the other fillet with the remaining mixture and place it skin side up on top of the first, creating a salmon'sandwich' with all the spices and dill in-between.
- Pour the aquavit on top, cover the dish with plastic wrap, and place a heavy weight, such as two heavy plates or a saucepan, on top of the fish.
- Refrigerate for 3 to 4 days, turning the fish every 12 hours and basting it with the brine that accumulates in the dish.
- To serve, dust off some of the spices and slice the fish into thin slices, on the diagonal- the way they cut smoked salmon, with a sharp thin knife.
- Serve with mustard sauce and dark rye bread, for open-faced sandwiches, or with mustard, pickles, and capers.