By using arctic char instead of the more common salmon for his silky, slightly sweet gravlax and by serving it with a crunchy salad, Frank Mendoza makes this recipe his own. The gravlax takes two days to make, so plan accordingly.
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3 cups kosher salt
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
3 tablespoons juniper berries, crushed
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
One 1-pound arctic char fillet, skin on
1 cup pecan halves (4 ounces)
2 tablespoons Champagne or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Granny Smith apples, cut into matchsticks
1 large Belgian endive, halved, cored and thinly sliced crosswise
How to Make It
In a bowl, mix the salt with the brown sugar, dill and juniper berries. In a spice grinder, grind the bay leaves with the peppercorns. Add to the salt cure and mix well. Spread half of the salt in a deep plate. Add the fish fillet, skin side down, and cover with the remaining salt. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Remove the fish from the salt and soak it in ice water in the refrigerator for 3 hours. Pat dry. Transfer the fish, skin side down, to a rack set on a baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast for 7 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool. In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the honey and mustard. Add the oil and whisk until blended. Whisk in the garlic and thyme and season with sea salt and pepper. Add the apples and endive and toss, then add the pecans and toss again.
Using a thin, sharp knife, thinly slice the gravlax on the diagonal off the skin. Mound the salad on plates, surround it with gravlax and serve.
The gravlax can be prepared through Step 2, then wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for 1 week.
A lively German Riesling will blend with the flavors in the salad while cutting the richness of the fish.
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