I’ve been making this recipe for a long time and it never gets old. In the beginning, it was for a project that I did for Pernod Ricard, creating savory recipes using their spirit to entice the American public to buy and cook with Pernod, as opposed to drinking it. Apparently booze hounds stateside had never really acquired a taste for pastis, at least in beverage form. Too bad because the Milk of Provence (1 part pastis, 5 parts water over ice) is a particularly great drink to waste away a hot summer day.
In recent years this recipe comes out on Christmas day at my in-laws for our Swedish/Midwestern/Venezuelan/Miamian and Truly American Mash Up Buffet. Swedish Meatballs+Deviled Eggs+Pan de Jamón+Homemade Pretzels+Gravlax+Stone Crab+Chocolate Stout Cake+Coquito+Key Lime Pie+Jello+Beer+10 other rotating dishes=AWESOME. I love how versatile making a cold cured dish like this is and how it can seemingly fit into any occasion: brunch with cream cheese, bagels and eggs; lunch with black bread, mustard sauce and watercress; cocktail hour with blini, creme fraîche and caviar; dinner with boiled potatoes, cold beet salad and horseradish cream. Need I go on? The best part also is that Gravlax can live in your refrigerator for a few weeks for continual noshing pleasures. Pair with my Red-Headed Mary to take the whole shebang completely over the top. Skål!
3/4 cup sea salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp white peppercorns
1 tbsp fennel seed
1 tbsp coriander seed
2 bunches dill, roughly chopped
1 head fennel; bulb thinly sliced, fronds and stems reserved
1, 2-lb. filet of salmon, skin-on and deboned
¼ cup Pernod
In a bowl, mix together the salt and sugars. With a mortar and pestle, bash up the peppercorns, fennel and coriander seeds and add to the salt mixture. Mix in the dill.
Line a baking dish with a few layers of plastic wrap, long enough to wrap around the filet of salmon. Add half of the salt/spice/dill mixture along with half of the fennel fronds on top of the plastic wrap. Put the salmon on top of this mixture. Top the salmon with the remaining salt mix and fennel. Pour the Pernod over the top of the fish and wrap tightly. Place another baking dish on top of the fish to weigh it down and put in the refrigerator for 36-48 hours.
After the salmon has cured, remove from the plastic wrap and rinse off the seasoning. Slice the gravlax into thin strips and serve with any number of condiments, such as bagels, black bread, crackers, cream cheese or mustard. Gravlax will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks wrapped tightly.