I keep reading that everyone should start their own Christmas traditions.
The Christmas cake and pudding making already has a baton holder in our family, with mum doing a brilliant job. My brother holds the ‘best stuffings by far’ award, while my sister’s ham glaze is second to none.
So what could possibly be left on the winter food traditions list for me? As of today, it’s home made Gravadlax all the way.
There's something about the heady scent of dill; so fresh and sweet yet with a musky richness. It just makes you feel like it's a special time of year. Accompany that with perfectly cured coral salmon, salt, pepper, sugar and spice and bingo you have pure culinary Christmas gold.
I’ve adapted this recipe from Tim Hayward at Word of Mouth. You can make up your own too. The main elements are dill plus something salty, sweet and hot if you like it. The beetroot here adds the most beautiful purple hue which oozes into the coral pink salmon as it cures (you’ll already know I’ve rediscovered my love of the beet if you’ve tried my chocolate beetroot cake.)
The best thing about this particular Christmas tradition? It’s the easiest thing you’ll ever make - more of an assembly job really. The finished dish looks spectacular sliced on rye bread with a little dollop of fragrant horseradish crème fraiche. Or serve on its lovely lonesome with a squeeze of lemon juice.
P.s. Although you often see chefs making this one with a whole side of salmon, you can just experiment, as I have done here, with your usual weekly shop fillets.
Pack 4 salmon fillets, skin on
50g sea salt flakes
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp mustard seeds and 2 cooked beetroot, sliced thinly
Heavy pan to place on top of parcel in fridge
Pestle and mortar
1. Pull out a piece of cling film that's more than long enough to wrap around all your fillets - double it over and again until you have four layers on the worktop.
2. Now place two of your salmon fillets, skin down onto the cling film.
3. In a pestle and mortar, grind the spices - the salt, pepper, mustard and coriander seeds, add and mix in the sugar.
4. Chop the dill. Place half of it onto the salmon fillets on the cling film. Then rub in half of the spice / salt mixture all around the fillets.
5. Slice the beetroot. Place some in and around the first two salmon fillets. Repeat the process for the next two fillets then lay them on top of the first, skin side up. Rub in the mix all over the pink part of the salmon.
6. Wrap tightly in the remaining cling film and place on a plate in the fridge with something heavy on top - I used a cast iron pan. Turn each day for at least three days then serve sliced thinly.