This week on Good Food, Evan talks to “selmelier” Mark Bitterman about Salt Block Cooking, his latest book that includes 70 recipes dedicated to cooking on Himalayan salt blocks. The book includes a “Salt Block User Manual,” recipes for cocktails and even a recipe that transforms a juicy slab of watermelon into a delectable slice of something that tastes more like prosciutto than fruit.
This recipe for Salt Block Cured Gravlax is one of the many salmon recipes from the book. He says this easy recipe is perfect for “a decadent celebration anytime.”
Makes 6 servings
Life isn’t all Champagne and caviar, as they say. And who would want it to be? Pizza and rosé after a day playing Frisbee; guacamole, chips, and beer at home watching the Super Bowl; bouillabaisse and a solid Grenache after a long hike up and down a misty coastal mountain. Homemade gravlax and a glass of sparkling wine is a decadent celebration anytime. And making it on a salt block is so easy, so delicious, and so rewarding that you may start believing that life really is all Champagne and caviar after all.
2 (8 by 12 by 2-inch or 9 by 9 by 2-inch) salt block platters
1 bunch dill sprigs
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cracked fennel seeds
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ cup sugar
1 pound skin-on salmon fillet, pin-bones removed
Whole-grain crackers, for serving
Crème fraîche, for garnish
Chopped fresh dill, for garnish
Lay half the dill sprigs over one of the salt block platters.
Combine the pepper, fennel seeds, thyme, and sugar in a small bowl. Pat the seasoning mixture onto the fleshy parts of the salmon until thoroughly covered. Place the coated salmon on the dill-covered salt block and cover with the remaining half of the dill sprigs. Place the other salt block platter on top. You are now looking at a slab of salmon sandwiched between two lambent salt blocks. Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until the fish feels resilient but not quite firm to the touch. Visually, it should appear dry on the surface but moist and oily inside. A thin fillet of wild salmon will take 1 day to cure, while a thick fillet of farmed salmon will take up to 3 days.
When the gravlax is ready, unwrap the setup, remove the fish from between the salt blocks. Rinse lightly to remove the seasoning, and pat dry. Put the salmon on a cutting board, skin side down, and starting at the wider end slice thinly on a slant.
Serve with crackers (or blinis or toast points, over soft-scrambled eggs, or solo). A dollop of crème fraîche and a garnish of dill are always welcome.
From Salt Block Cooking, by Mark Bitterman/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC.