Why This Recipe Works
Compared with its cousins smoked salmon, lox, and nova, which are all usually brined and then smoked, gravlax relies on a one-step process. The name, derived from gravad lax (Swedish for “buried salmon”), alludes to covering the fish with a salt-and-sugar cure (and typically dill). We call for skin-on salmon because it makes slicing the cured fish easier. A splash of booze (we use brandy) adds flavor, helps the cure adhere, and assists in the preserving process. Most recipes use granulated sugar, but we opt for brown sugar because its flavor complements the salmon. Pressing the salmon under the weight of a few cans helps it release moisture and gives the fillet a firmer, more sliceable texture. We baste the salmon with the released liquid once a day to help speed up the curing process and to keep it from drying out. Serve it sliced thin on its own or on our Deli Rye Bread with cream cheese, shallot, or other accoutrements.