Snaps and Gravad Lax as Snax…

Lax might be more recognized as lox, or just salmon here in North America. But the fish is called lax in Sweden,  and “laks” in Norway and Denmark. In German it is called “lachs”.
Salmon is the English word, but it seems that when the salmon is brined before smoking, or just cured, Americans prefer to call it “lox“.

I researched some recipes for gravad lax, and wanted to match that recipe with my homemade snaps. For this my aquavit laboratory will come in handy.

I started with the finest fresh salmon I could find,  Copper River salmon fillets purchased at Costco.
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Together with fresh dill and ginger, brown sugar and sea salt.   Lemon and orange  juice and zest, crushed white peppercorns, and a couple of ground star anise. With these ingredients I hope to make a more complex curing, with a bite from the ginger, and some citrus and licorice flavor behind the dill.

I start with preparing the spices. Using 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar and sea salt. Crush 1-1.5 tablespoon of white peppercorn, and mix it with the salt and sugar.
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Chopping most of the dill
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Zest the peel from one large orange and lemon
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1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh ginger (wow, so hot)

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Milling or grinding 2-3 anise stars
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Juice the orange and lemon, let the anise soak in the juice while doing the rest
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Now start with the salmon, cutting two equal size  pieces (approximately 12 oz each). (I prepared the rest of the fillet for future curing and dinner meals).
Each piece of the salmon fillets are uneven in thickness,  to ensure curing of the thicker parts,  cut through the skin on the thicker part.

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After washing out and drying the styrofoam tray, it becomes a perfect working container when adding the spices.

The next step will combine the spices, sugar, and salmon and wrap the prepared salmon into a tight package.

Cover the styrofoam tray with a long piece of plastic wrap.

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Spread an eight of the sugar-salt-pepper mix on the plastic. Adding some dill  and zest from orange and lemon.
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Place one fillet with skin down over the spice mix. Rub the meat side with some ginger, and then almost half of the salt-sugar-pepper mix. Do not forget the sides.
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Spread almost half of the citrus zest over, and the same with the chopped dill. Place the second fillet next to the first one, but turn it 180 degrees.
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Now when we add the two fillets together meat side to meat side, the package will be evenly thick.

Prepare the second fillet the same way. Add the the whole dill pieces on top of one of them.  Sprinkle all the juices with anise over both fillets.

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Now get get to the crucial part, the “flip and wrap”
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After flipping, we turn the fillets 90 degrees, so they sit longways in the tray. Fold up the long sides over the fillets, and then the short sides. Make sure the juices stay in the package.
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Stretch the wrap to squeeze air out. Use one or two more large pieces of plastic wrap to complete the job.
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Finish with the whole package into a ziplock bag, and place it in a narrow bowl/pan.
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This is now going to cure under some pressure in the fridge for 3-4 days. I use 4 lbs of butter, or a half gallon of milk.
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For me the fridge door worked perfect. 
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Easy access is important, because you need to flip the package every 24 hrs. Expect some juices to leak through the plastic, thus the need for the bowl.
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Four days later…

Now the “grand opening” and unwrapping this gravad lax.
It smells great…
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Take the pieces apart on a cutting board
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Use the file knife to cut a thin slice off the thin side, and put it in your mouth. It melts and taste wonderful.
Sometimes I rinse the salt a pepper off in cold water, and dry the fillet with a paper towel, but this was so flavorful and decorative, so I decided to keep it on. I was also surprised how the hot ginger almost disappeared. I was the first time I used it, so I was a little nervous, but I got the  ginger idea from an experienced “lax graver”.
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Now I need to complete my project, by making a pairing snaps to this.
My aquavit laboratory comes in handy now.
I fill a small bit of vodka into a snapsglass, and drip 8 drops each of my infused  star anise, fresh dill, and orange and lemon zest.
I place a large slice of my cured salmon on a piece of rye-dill flatbread, added some dill and mustard sauce
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I was both thrilled and nervous at the same time. I stared at the glass for 30 seconds, before I pushed the entire bite into my mouth and explored it, and washing it down with my snaps.
Moment of silence….
And it worked…..beyond what I expected….
All spices and flavors in the gravad lax, were confirmed by swallowing the room temperature CAD-snaps, Citrus-Anise-Dill.

Small food bites like this, remind me of the Spanish Tapas.
Some exclusive Swedish chefs introduced the term Snapas several years ago. I will have to come back on that subject another time….
Skål!
…ta mej faan…

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