I have mentioned, I believe, that I do not eat anything that ever swam. (This is a personal preference—I think fish are just so pretty and lively when they’re alive.) I have also mentioned that I will only cook with meat or fish for L’Ailee when she’s really pleased me or I’ve really displeased her. But she really pleased me for my birthday last week.
Food and Wine magazine is educational, but has the most insanely rich and complicated recipes. I end up making parts of the recipes, or adapting them freely. For instance, they had this delicious-looking passion fruit and coconut cream parfait in the latest issue, but the passion fruit part was a “curd” with about eight eggs and less than a cup of passion fruit puree! Even if I weren’t allergic to eggs, I’d consider that kind of gross, and too much time and effort for too little reward. I had to sub real fruit cooked with turbinado sugar for that one.
L’Ailee found the following recipe in the latest issue, and wanted to try it bad-bad. It is supposed to be a healthy pastrami alternative. She loves pastrami, salmon, and the combination of sweet and meat; I never cared for any of these things. She did not want to make it, because it’s an insane amount of effort. She’ll know whether it turned out tomorrow, because it’s still curing in my fridge. I made two meaningful adjustments—I made a triple amount of pastrami glaze ‘cause I knew L’Ailee would like it. (She thinks it makes a good dipping sauce for Quorn nuggets already.) And anyone who thinks I am going to leave fish curing in strong pastrami spices in either a “loosely covered” or an open container in *my* refrigerator for *three* days is clearly out of touch with reality, and possibly smoking a rock. I am using those glass containers from Crate and Barrel, and the effects don’t seem to be fatal, judging by the reactions of the cats and the little bald girl hanging around longing for the contents.
ACTIVE TIME: 30 MIN
TOTAL TIME: 30 MIN plus 3 days for curing
1 1/2 pounds center-cut salmon fillet with skin
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup kosher salt
3 tablespoons raw sugar, such as turbinado or demerara
1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely cracked black pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and stems
1 cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves and stems
2 shallots, minced
2 tablespoons molasses
2 bay leaves, torn into large pieces
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
MAKE THE GRAVLAX: Rub the salmon fillet all over with the lemon juice. Place the fillet skin side down in a glass dish. In a small bowl, combine the salt, raw sugar, cracked black pepper, cilantro, parsley and shallots and rub the seasonings all over the salmon. Cover the salmon loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days.
MAKE THE PASTRAMI GLAZE: In a small saucepan, combine the molasses, bay leaves and cayenne and bring to a simmer. Let cool to room temperature.
In a small skillet, lightly toast the caraway and coriander seeds over moderate heat, shaking the pan, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer the seeds to a mortar and let cool completely. Crush the seeds as finely as possible with a pestle. Stir in the paprika and ground pepper.
Gently scrape the seasonings off the gravlax. Set the gravlax on a plate, skin side down. Brush the gravlax with the molasses; pick off the bay leaves. Sprinkle the ground spices evenly over the fillet. Refrigerate the gravlax uncovered for at least 12 hours or overnight.
Using a long, sharp knife, cut the gravlax crosswise into very thin slices. Arrange the slices on plates and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The pastrami-cured gravlax can be tightly wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 1 week.
SERVE WITH Toasted brown or black bread and moutarde violette (grainy mustard with grape must) or Dijon mustard.
NOTES One Serving 362 cal, 19 gm total fat, 3.7 gm saturated fat, 11 gm carb, 0.5 gm fiber.