Like salmon, the usual choice for this Swedish delicacy, cured halibut is delicious. For food safety, it's best to use thawed frozen-at-sea (FAS) halibut. Depending on the size of the fillets, you may use two to five pieces. Don't use one large fillet, as the salt cure will not seep evenly throughout the fish. Slice the gravlax into paper-thin strips with a thin, sharp knife, angling the blade for wider slices. Serve as an appetizer with rye or pumpernickel toasts and cream cheese. Garnish with dill sprigs.
1/3 cup coarse sea salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup chopped fennel fronds
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds halibut fillets, skinned
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
How to Make It
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a food processor, and process until finely ground.
Arrange fish in a single layer in a 13 x 9–inch baking dish. Rub salt mixture evenly over surface of fish. Cover and refrigerate fish for 24 hours.
Rinse fish thoroughly under cold water; pat dry. Pat dill onto fish. Cut fish into 1/16–inch slices. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 days.
Wine note: Gravlax is fantastic with a wine that's beginning to make a big splash in the States—grüner veltliner. The most famous white wine of Austria, grüner veltliner is fresh, clean, crisp, and slightly peppery, giving it the right â€œbiteâ€� to balance cured fish. A terrific choice is the 2007 Nigl Grüner Veltliner Kremser Freiheit from the Wachau region of Austria ($20). —Karen MacNeil