Let’s talk about fridge fish.
First and foremost: Gravlax is not what you’re used to piling high on a sesame bagel with scallion cream cheese, red onion and tomato. That sort of fish—also known as Nova or Scottish-style salmon—is brined, then smoked, a double-headed curing process that gives it its signature flavor and texture.
Gravlax, though, cuts smoke out of the equation entirely for a more delicately flavored fish that still melts in your mouth. To make it, all you really have to do is rub a raw salmon fillet with salt, dill and sugar, put the salmon in your refrigerator and wait. A few days later, you’ll have honest-to-God lox—if not the kind you’ll usually see on an appetizing platter.
I’ve made gravlax a couple of times now, and throughout both, I’ve been amazed by how easy the whole process is. There are only two slightly difficult parts: the waiting (which isn’t difficult so much as challenging for the impatient) and the slicing, which, real talk, I still haven’t quite mastered.
The trick is to cut the fish on a wide diagonal, trying to keep your knife as horizontal as possible while still getting down to the skin side eventually—and to use a long, thin, super, super sharp knife, which isn’t a kind of knife I currently have in my repertoire.
But I haven’t let that stop me from making gravlax, and neither should you. Another bonus: Raw salmon fillets are by no means cheap, but their price (I think mine was $21 a pound) is nothing compared to the lox you’d buy at a place like Russ & Daughters (where fish tends to be more like $14…per quarter pound). Are you running to the store yet?