Blue Grouse Estate Winery owners Paul and Cristina Brunner are the most delightful hosts and love to entertain guests at their home on the winery’s incredible property. Located on Vancouver Island, seafood is usually featured on local restaurant dinner menus and this cured salmon recipe, also known as gravlax, has become one of Paul’s signature dishes.
You will need two nesting Pyrex dishes (the larger just big enough to contain the fish and the curing ingredients) and 8-9 pounds (4 kilograms) of weights. Bags of rice work well. This entire process takes about three days total.
Crafted by winemaker Bailey Williamson, Blue Grouse’s 2017 Quill Pinot Noir starts with red plum, vanilla and cranberries on the nose, followed by flavors of cherry pie and warm spices. Rich and delicious, the BC-designated wine makes a perfect companion for wild salmon dishes.
Recipe by Paul Brunner, as featured in “BC Wine Lover’s Cookbook”
1 pound sushi-grade or previously frozen, wild salmon fillet, de-boned and washed with skin on
½ cup sea salt
½ cup raw Demerara sugar
½ tablespoon cinnamon
½ tablespoon black or Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
1 orange, thinly sliced
½ bunch fresh dill, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, cut in half, seeded and finely chopped
½ fennel bulb, finely chopped
Line the larger of the two Pyrex dishes with enough plastic wrap to wrap around the fish.
In a bowl, thoroughly mix the salt, sugar, cinnamon and crushed pepper.
Lay the salmon fillet on top of the plastic wrap in the Pyrex dish, skin side down. Place the oranges on top of the salmon and top with the dill, jalapeño slices and fennel.
Cover with a generous amount of the salt/sugar mixture, making sure to also coat the ends and sides of the fish. Pull the plastic wrap tightly around the entire fish to seal it in a cocoon. Place the smaller Pyrex dish on top of the wrapped salmon and fill it with the weights.
Move the stack of dishes to the refrigerator and leave the salmon to cure for 48 hours, discarding the liquid and flipping the fish over every 12 hours.
After 48 hours, take the fish out of the fridge. Remove the plastic wrap and discard the seasoning ingredients, then rinse the fish well to remove any remaining salt. Pat it dry with clean paper towels. Place the fish on a cookie sheet, uncovered, and return to the refrigerator to rest for 24 hours.
When ready to serve, slice into thin pieces with an extra-sharp knife and serve with bagels and cream cheese, or on a platter with crostini. If you are not going to serve immediately, wrap it with plastic wrap and save in the fridge for up to 10 days.
This recipe originally ran in the 2019 Summer print edition of Sip Northwest magazine. For the full article and more like it, click here.