As part of the Copper River Salmon Fresh Catch Crew, I was recently sent another shipment of fresh salmon from Alaska.
I know, my life really doesn’t suck right now.
The King salmon I was sent is aptly named – it is nothing less than regal. It is the largest of the salmon that run the Copper River, with the highest fat content. It has a saturated orange color and an extremely rich mouthfeel. This salmon has only a one month season, so I didn’t want to play with it too much. I was very lucky to get some, and just wanted to accentuate its natural lushness and mild taste.
That’s when I came across this recipe for Moroccan gravlax. I had no idea how it would work, and I also didn’t want to spend THAT much time finding all the spices, toasting them, measuring them…etc. Bottom line – I wanted a shortcut.
That’s when I thought about using ras el hanout. Though there are many different varieties, this Moroccan spice blend tends to use aromatic and smoky spices like cumin, coriander, and ground rose. It has the deep, complex charictaristics of curry without actually USING any curry. Thus, it is perfect for accenting the fish instead of overpowering it. I thought I would add some aromatic vegetables and give it a whirl.
What I came up with might just be the best fish recipe I have ever made. Mild, complex, smooth, and incredibly easy to make!
Moroccan Cured Gravlax
1 lb. salmon fillet
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup ras el hanout
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup fennel bulb, diced
1 loaf pan lined with cling wrap
1 brick or a few heavy cans
7. Using a gravlax knife or a very sharp, flexible knife, slice velum thin slices of the salmon, just down to the skin but not cutting through the skin. Angle the knife so that you cut away thin pieces of the salmon without the skin. Go against the grain, on the bias. The grain changes on the salmon, and you may have to change the direction that you cut several times.
If you are not very skilled, you will end up leaving quite a bit of salmon on the skin – it just gets too difficult to slice all the way down to the skin, and you really want thin, even slices. It’s okay – just let it go or feed it to the cat. Lucky cat…
This is just astonishingly delicious. The salmon takes on the fresh orange taste, the sweet fennel, and the smoky warmth of the ras el hanout. It is not at all salty like some gravlax, just saline in the natural way that seafood is. When sliced thin, it almost melts on the tongue, leaving behind just the taste of the salmon and the aromatic spices. This is almost the un-recipe – very set it and forget it! It is a welcome mix up from the classic dill gravlax and is fabulous with greek yogurt on brown bread.
Disclaimer: I was given the sockeye salmon as a sample. I am not being monetarily compensated for my opinions or recipes.