Thursday, August 4, 2011

Gravlax (Salt and Sugar Cured Salmon)

Find more free recipes - and excerpts of my books, including the latest Fool's Gold romance, ONLY MINE, at!

I'd like to welcome Louisa Edwards to my kitchen! Louisa writes a series of steamy, sexy romances with a cooking twist.

Louisa Edwards:

My next book, Too Hot to Touch, is out on August 2nd! It’s the first installment in my new contemporary romance trilogy, and it introduces a team of talented young chefs competing in a high-stakes culinary competition for fame, fortune…and each other’s hearts.

As you might have guessed, there’s plenty of food in my books! I think you can say a lot with what you choose to cook—and my hero, Max Lunden, definitely understands the language of food. The language of love? That, he needs a little help with. Luckily, he’s got Jules Cavanaugh, their tough-talking team leader…who just happens to have had a crush on Max since they were teenagers. Now that they have to work together, though, she’s determined to keep her cool—no matter how hot it gets!

The competition is fierce, and the whole team has to pull together to create a winning menu. I wanted to share one of the three recipes that appears in the back of Too Hot to Touch. This one is for gravlax, one of my favorite things to make. It’s a super adaptable recipe, perfect when you’ve got houseguests or a dinner party, because it’s one of those where you throw the ingredients together and then just stick it in the fridge and forget about it.

I know it sounds fancy, but gravlax is just salt and sugar-cured salmon—sort of like smoked salmon without the smoke! The salt/sugar blend “cooks” the fish, and leaves it with a firm, supple texture and a delicious, lightly sweet and herbal flavor that you can change, depending on what you add while it’s curing. I’ve made it with dill and gin instead of tarragon and Pernod, with no alcohol at all (it’s completely optional), and it always tastes delicious and refreshing. Perfect for such a hot summer!

I hope you enjoy the Too Hot to Touch team’s version…and if you want to find out whether the recipe helps them win a spot in the Rising Star Chef competition, and if Max and Jules figure out how to tell each other what they really feel, read the book!

Too Hot to Touch on Amazon
Too Hot to Touch on Barnes & Noble

Recipe: Beck’s New York-Style Gravlax

2 lb whole salmon fillet, skin on (ask fishmonger to remove all pin bones)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup salt
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon black pepper
4 bunches fresh tarragon
¼ cup Pernod, or other anise-flavored liqueur (optional)

Rinse the fish, checking for loose scales, and pat dry with paper towels.

Stir together the garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Coat the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole with about a third of the mixture.
Lay the fish, skin side down, across the sugar mixture in the pan. Place one bunch of tarragon around the sides of the salmon, then pour the rest of the sugar mixture over the top of the fish, making sure to cover it completely.

Spread the rest of the tarragon over the coated fish, then (if you want) pour the Pernod over all and cover with plastic wrap.

You may place a weighted 8 x 11 pan on top of the covered salmon to help the curing process and absorption of the tarragon oil into the sugar, but it’s not strictly necessary.

Put the pan in the refrigerator and allow to cure for two to three days. Check the salmon every twelve hours or so to make sure it’s still covered, adding more sugar and salt if needed.

When ready to serve, remove the gravlax from the pan and rinse well. Pat dry with paper towels and slice thinly across the grain. Great on sandwiches, in salads, with eggs—anywhere you’d use smoked salmon! It’s especially good on crackers with sour cream, diced red onion, and capers…

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