I adore curing, pickling and fermenting foods. However, most cured fish recipes like gravlax are tricky because they require weighting down the fish to expel moisture. For me, that ruins the texture. My stellar version uses salt and sugar to draw out the liquid from the fish, so the texture and flavor is superb. This gravlax works equally well on bagels or toasted and buttered brioche; as a sliced, plated appetizer; cubed and toothpicked as hors d’oeuvres, or however you like to use herb-cured fish. With all the fresh wild salmon coming into the market this month, there’s no better time to make this dish. —Andrew Zimmern
How to Make the Ultimate Umami-Bomb Vegetarian Demi-Glace
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons whole white peppercorns
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups chopped dill
2 cups chopped parsley
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons aquavit
One 2-pound, center-cut, skin-on wild salmon fillet, pin bones removed
Bagels and cream cheese, blini or scrambled eggs, for serving
In a spice grinder, combine the cumin seeds and white peppercorns and pulse until finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the salt, both sugars, dill, parsley, crushed red pepper, lemon zest and aquavit. Mix well.
Place the salmon in a glass or ceramic dish, skin side down. Spread the herb paste evenly over the fillet. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the fish feels firm and looks cured in the center, 2 to 3 days. The sides of the fillet will have the strongest flavor and driest texture.