Boston chef Matt Jennings flavors his tender, silky gravlax with cracked spices, fennel pollen and fresh dill. Slideshow: More Holiday Hor d'Oeuvres Recipes
Fill a large bowl or baking dish with water, add 2 tablespoons of the salt and stir until dissolved. Submerge the salmon in the water and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain the fish and pat dry with paper towels.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the pink peppercorns, caraway and coriander over moderate heat, stirring, until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly, then coarsely grind in a mortar or spice grinder. Transfer the spice mixture to a small bowl and stir in the fennel pollen, white pepper, sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup of salt.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Arrange half of the dill down the center of the baking sheet. Sprinkle half of the spice mixture evenly over the dill, then top with the salmon, skin side down. Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture over the top and sides of the salmon in an even layer. Top with the remaining dill. Wrap the salmon tightly in the plastic wrap and place skin side down on the baking sheet. Top with a second baking sheet and heavy canned goods to weigh it down. Refrigerate for 1 day.
Unwrap the fish and pat dry. Rewrap the fish and seasonings in a clean sheet of plastic, leaving behind any released liquid and squeezing out excess liquid from the dill. Place the freshly wrapped salmon skin side up on the baking sheet. Top with the baking sheet and weights and refrigerate for 2 days, until the flesh feels firm in the center.
Rinse off the fish, pat it dry and thinly slice. Serve with rye crackers, sour cream, sliced onions and capers.
The gravlax can be rinsed, wrapped in a fresh sheet of plastic and refrigerated for 3 days.