gravlax anti bela

The first recipe I had for gravlax was found in Craig Clairborne’s “An Herb and Spice Cookbook,” published in 1963, when I bought it new. The recipe was attributed to the chef at the Kronprinssen Restaurant in Malmö, Sweden. The name, I learned, derives from the Scandinavian words grav, which literally means “grave,” or “hole in the ground,” and lax, meaning “salmon.” Thus, gravlax is “buried salmon,” or, more literally, “entombed salmon,” so named because of the means by which it was prepared during the middle ages. It is also known as Gravad Laks in Denmark, Gravlaks in Norway, Graflax in Iceland, and Graavilohi in Finland. The previous method of fermentation is today displaced by curing in salt, sugar, and dill brine, often weighted down by a stone (gravity replaces the grave).

My recipe builds on a number of recipes I have seen since. I leave out the sugar to reduce carbohydrates, and I marinade, rather than cure, so as to produce a hors d’oeuvre that can be used directly, without first removing the seasoning mixture. I use frozen salmon* to reduce the likelihood of invisible, strange organisms perhaps yet living in the fish. I have sized the recipe to use about half a pound of salmon so as to fit in my refrigerator more easily. I add garlic to ward off vampires (i.e., anti Bela Lugosi), olive oil for body and texture, and lemon juice for (my) taste. In this case, the olive oil is essential, so I have not substituted for it.

  • 8 oz salmon fillet, skin off, pin bones removed, rinsed in cold water, patted dry, and cut in thin slices*
  • 1 tsp <salt>
  • 1 tbsp fresh, or
  • tsp dried dill weed
  • 1 pkt <sugar>*
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 oz extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 oz lemon juice*
  • 1 tsp white pepper, freshly ground
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch allspice
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • ¼ tsp liquid smoke

Assemble all ingredients in a refrigerator storage container, put on the lid, and shake to distribute the mixture among the salmon pieces. Refrigerate overnight.

It is traditionally served on crisp bread with dill and mustard sauce, but I prefer to serve it on slices of party rye bread (2” squares) or a favorite cracker topped with sharp cheddar cheese spread, such as With Pride .

Serves about 8.

Salmon and Provolone Quesadillas ☆

Quesadillas make an awesome lunch. Just reading the word makes my stomach rumble in anticipation. Here’s a simple one using leftover salmon, if you have it. If not, you can use canned. You may also substitute cheddar cheese for the provolone, if you prefer.

  • 1 cup grated provolone cheese
  • 5 oz leftover salmon, or 1 (5 oz) can, drained
  • 1 cup pico de gallo
  • 4 to 6 low-carb tortillas
  • 2 tbsp melted <butter>

Combine grated cheese, salmon, and pico de gallo.

Dip each tortilla in water, brush one side with the <butter>, and slather one half of the other side with the cheese-salmon mixture. Fold the tortilla over and press the sides together.

Place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.

Bake in a 375°F oven for 7 to 10 minutes or until quesadillas are crispy and the cheese has melted. Serve hot, warm, or cold, as you wish.

Makes 4 to 6 quesadillas.