I have an essay due next week, and I’ve done jack squat of it so far… Okay. Well, maybe some squats, but not much. I was going to finish half of it today, but after a good round of research and essay outlining, the sun outside lured me into its semi-warm embrace and we decided to walk to my local grocer to buy some fresh pineapple for the gravalax (ie. Nordic cured salmon) that finished curing today.
How did this all begin?
You see, 5 days ago, as I sat down to decide on a thesis for my essay, I had an epiphany that I should get some fresh sashimi-grade salmon and make some gravalax.
Then, 4 days ago, as I was about to turn on my laptop to do said essay, I had another epiphany that told me to experiment on my gravalax. So instead of the normal salt/sugar/lime combination, I decided that I would make a Dark-Chocolate & Coffee Infused Gravalax, and I set off to do just that. Why coffee? Well… my logic was that since smoked salmon has such a savory smoky aftertaste that goes so well with salmon, coffee should give gravalax a similar bold, flavorful aftertaste. I was also given a bag of Blue Mountain coffee from Jamaica, and it was just too exciting of a combination to not experiment on.
3 days ago, I had given up on starting my essay early, and decided that I should make some home-made crème fraîche for my soon-to-be-finished-gravalax, and so I did. I did for a few reasons: 1) I wanted to do some productive procrastination 2) I wanted something to offset the possibly overwhelming boldness of the gravalax 3) store-bought crème fraîche in Canada is a rip-off.
2 days ago, I actually had a productive day.
But that productivity didn’t last for long, and now here I am… This morning I tried a small piece of my gravalax and didn’t like the coffee taste. The coffee taste didn’t work the way that I wanted it to, and I decided that I should mitigate that somehow. So I cut tiny pieces of my coffee-gravalax and started taste testing possible pairings: crème fraîche (worked well), strawberry (interesting…), triscuit (too dry), balsamic (not bad…). So after an hour of taste testing I decided on a few things: 1) that this particular gravalax needed to be had in mini-bites (because the flavor was simply too overwhelming to eat in large pieces), 2) I needed colour for this appetizer dish, 3) oh look! It’s so sunny outside! Better find an excuse to go out! PINEAPPLES! I NEED PINEAPPLES!
So after a hard days work of procrastination from doing my actual work, I present to you the recipe of my new Nommy Noms dish!
DISCLAIMER: The chocolate component of the gravalax didn’t come through (might have worked better using cocoa powder instead of grated dark chocolate), so I’ve renamed my gravalax to a “Coffee-Infused Gravalax” instead. The coffee-infused gravalax itself has received mixed reviews among the family. I’ve grown to like it more as I continually taste-tested this gravalax with different food pairings. However, I think that a traditionally cured gravalax may be a better substitute for the coffee-infused version of this dish.
Coffee-Infused Gravalax w/ Homemade Crème Fraîche & Pineapple Brulee
Coffee-Infused Gravalax (see disclaimer!)
Prep Time: 10 Mins Wait Time: 3-4 days
- Sushi-Grade Fresh Salmon ————————— ~350-400g
- Fresh Ground Coffee (I used Blue-Mountain) —– 1 Tbs
- Sugar —————————————————— 2 Tbs
- Salt ——————————————————— 1 1/2 Tbs
- Peppercorn ———————————————– 1/2 Tbs
- Chilli Powder ———————————————- 2 Tsp
- Gin (optional) ——————————————— 1 Tbs
The fun part:
- Grind the coffee & crack the peppercorns with the bottom of a heavy pan. (Peppercorns should be coarsely cracked, not finely ground.)
- Add coffee, pepper, sugar, salt and chilli powder to a bowl and mix well.
- Place cling film (large enough to wrap around the salmon) on a ceramic/glass container large enough to flatly place the salmon. Sprinkle half of the dry-ingredient mixture evenly on the film. Place salmon on the seasoning (skin-side down if skin is left on, doesn’t matter if there is no skin.)
- Sprinkle remaining dry ingredients on the salmon.
- (Optional) Drizzle with gin.
- Wrap the film around the salmon tightly, cover container with lid or another layer of cling film.
- Place in the fridge to cure for 3-4 days, turning over the fish each day. Do a simple taste-test on day 3 to see if there is enough flavor, if not, let cure for another day.
- Wash the salmon under cold tap water, washing away all the seasoning. Pat dry with paper towel and store in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Homemade Crème Fraîche
Yield: 1 Cup Prep Time: Super quick Wait Time: 2-3 days
- Heavy Cream —————————— 1 Cup
- Buttermilk ———————————– 2 Tbs
The Fun Part:
- Measure out ingredients and let it sit to room temperature (~30 mins).
- In a clean jar, mix ingredients together. Cover lid and let sit in a warm area for 24-48 hours, until it is the consistency of mayonnaise.
- Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Yield: 1 Cup
- Fresh pineapples (cubed) ———————- ~1 Cup
- Honey ———————————————– ~1 Tbs (enough to drizzle)
- Pepper ———————————————- To taste
The fun part:
- Cut pineapples into small cubes. Drizzle with honey and pepper, toss.
- Layer pineapples in a baking sheet and scorch with a kitchen torch.
Reduced Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic Vinegar ——————- 1/2 Cup
The Fun Part
- Place balsamic in a saucepan and simmer for 2-3 minutes until just before desired consistency. (Note: Balsamic will continue to reduce further after removing the pan from a heat source! So remove it from the stove just a bit before the consistency you want it to be!)
Yield: 4-5 Plates
- Gravalax ——————————————- Less than half of 1 recipe
- Garlic-Flavoured Triscuit Biscuits ———— 5-6 biscuits
- Crème Fraîche ———————————– 2 Tbs
- Pineapple Brulee ——————————– 1 Cup
- Reduced Balsamic Vinegar ——————– 1 Recipe
- Strawberries ————————————— 5-6 (Quartered)
- Pea Shoots —————————————- A bunch
- Brush a layer of reduced balsamic vinegar on the serving plate.
- Cube gravalax to the size that fits on a quartered Triscuit biscuit.
- Quarter Triscuit Biscuits.
- Place a dollop of crème fraîche on a quartered Triscuit biscuit and top it with a cube of gravalax. Place on dish (about 5 pieces per dish).
- Add quartered strawberries and pineapple brulee to the dish. (4-5 pieces per plate)
- Top with pea shoots, enjoy!