written + photographed by BRENDA ATHANUS

I always bug my fish counter person to find me that perfectly fatty, center cut, still with its belly flap attached—one-pound piece of Maine salmon. BUT, that’s me. You decide what you prefer, lean or fatty, but the makings are still the same, only the finished, mouth feel of the sliced gravlax will be different.

1 pound piece of salmon fillet with the skin still attached
One large piece of plastic
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/3 - 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill

Combine the sugar and salt, spread out half on a piece of plastic about the same size as the salmon fillet. Place the whole fillet on top, use the rest of the salt/sugar mix to coat the sides and top, finish with all the dill. Wrap the plastic tightly and wrap it a second time to keep in all the juices that will collect as it cures. Put in the refrigerator and place a weight on it. I use a couple of cans of tomatoes set on a plate so you don’t have can marks.

Let it cure for three days … that is how long I like to cure it, but two days works well, although the texture isn’t as firm. When it is time, brush wipe all the salt/sugar and cure liquid off with a paper towel. Take a big knife and remove the skin, slowly.

Serve it any way you like. For me, on the first day, I start with a bagel and cream cheese. The next day, scrambled eggs with caramelized onion. The final few slices are served on a plate, properly garnished with capers and soft lettuce leaves with a nice glass of white wine.

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