Hello and welcome to part II of my Celebrate cooking odyssey, where I tell the tale of how I cooked three things from Pippa Middleton's book in one evening and almost had a nervous breakdown.
Today is gravadlax, which is home-cured salmon. I was really worried about this. I am terrified of supermarket raw fish. I think one ought to buy it, race home with it, cook it at 200C for 30 minutes and then eat it and throw the remains away in a council bin at least 300ft away from one's house.
(To all those who are on the verge of referring me to my home-made sushi phase - I used cooked, peeled prawns for that.)
So the idea that I was going to let some fish sit in my fridge "curing" for two days caused me intense anxiety. But not so anxious that I was going to go to a fishmonger for specially super salmon.
But I needn't have worried and you needn't worry either because it was just terrific and if I hadn't decided to do a moderately complicated starter and fiendishly tricky pudding either side of this, it would have been a complete doddle.
The premise is that you take some salmon, rub it with a lot of salt, herbs and GIN and then put something heavy on it and let it sit in your fridge for two days and it basically turns into smoked salmon. No, wait, it actually turns into gravadlax.
(Please see @emfrid, the associate-editor-at-large of this blog, who is a Scandi, for more information on an echt gravadlax.)
But this is vaugely how Pips does it. This is not her exact recipe as hers makes enough for 12 people.
Gravadlax for 2
2 salmon fillets
rind of one lemon
rind of one clementine or 1/2 an orange
2 tbsp gin - any old piss will do
1 small bunch dill
1 small bunch chives
2 handfuls maldon sea salt
a pinch of black peppercorns
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 Put everything except the salmon in a whizzer and whizz. If your salmon has arrived with skin attached, remove this the best way you can see how.
2 Lay the salmon out on some clingfilm and then smother it all over with your curing paste. Wrap the fish reasonably tightly in cling film and then sandwich it between two chopping boards or other heavy flat things and stick it in the fridge for two days.
3 When you are ready to eat this, take it out of the fridge, take the clingfilm off (the gin will probably have slightly leaked out of the clingfilm - don't worry), and brush or scrape off with a knife most of the curing paste, just to make sure no-one bites down on a rogue still-whole peppercorn.
Give yourself a bit of time to plate this up as what you are going to do is slice it very very thinly with a fucking sharp knife and it requires a reasonable amount of care.
4 In advance, make up some condiments to go with this such as:
Toasted soda bread - essential
In a pan dissolve 1 tbsp of sugar in 2 tbsp white wine or rice wine vinegar. Leave to cool and then drop into it strips of peeled, de-seeded cucumber - marinate for at least an hour
1 heaped tsp dijon mustard
about 6-8 snips from a bunch of fresh dill
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp light olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Some very finely-chopped shallot if you want
Ice-cold vodka shots????
Isn't this also sometimes eaten with boiled potatoes and sour cream or something? Em? Hello? Is this thing on?