Another year, another New Year’s Eve in the books. Like last year our celebration was small but special as we were able to sit and nosh and chat all evening, and honestly I couldn’t ask for much more than that. I was beyond excited because it was the first time we could properly entertain in our new digs without bags of paper and flattened boxes lying everywhere, and truth be told I kind of felt like Marnie from Girls when she was fluttering about that North Fork house getting it ready for what would be the dinner party from hell.
(Fortunately our get-together did not include a choreographed dance number, not enough food for everyone who was gathered, or a drunken confession session in which everyone’s dirty laundry was aired, so really the comparison ended during the preparation stage.)
When it came to the menu we largely stuck to the edict of not serving brand new recipes, sticking with tried and true staples like hummus, lamb meatballs, and my crostini with mozzarella di bufula and serrano ham, but I admittedly did try something that was sort of new by trying Tom Colicchio’s recipe for cured salmon. It’s not the first time I’ve made gravlax, nor was this the first time we’ve tried making a cured product following a Tom Colicchio recipe, so it didn’t feel quite as much of a risk as, say, test-driving a recipe from either the Le Bernadin cookbook or even the Gramercy Tavern cookbook.
All that aside, we had the added temptation to make it because the fish stand in the Cross Street market regularly carries sushi-grade Scottish salmon for a reasonable price, so this felt like the perfect recipe to use with salmon that fresh and gorgeous.
Even better, I think, is that this is a recipe that fits in as part of a holiday spread but also easily can be worked into a regimen of lighter fare. To be completely frank I was inspired by Bon Appetit’s breakfast salad of smoked salmon, cream cheese, mescalun greens, red onion, and Wasa crackers to make this little appetizer—merely omitting the greens to make it a little easier to eat—to make the dish one that would encourage seconds and thirds but not stuff ourselves too much that we wouldn’t have room to eat anything else.
This was the correct decision, as we ate nearly everything we had set out over the course of the evening and the only item that never ended up being made were chicken wings, which we made for ourselves the next day to go with pizza.
Happy 2015, friends—here’s to a great year full of good eating.
Cured Salmon (gravlax)
Adapted from Think Like A Chef by Tom Coliichio
1 lb salmon, skin on (sushi-grade preferred)
2/3 cup kosher salt
5 1/3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup mixed herbs, coarsely chopped (I used mostly parsley and a bit of mint and rosemary, but I would have used dill and tarragon if I had it)
Zest from 2/3 each of a lemon, lime, and orange, chopped
Mix sugar and salt together with the herbs, then fold in the citrus zest. Place a large piece of plastic wrap on a plate, and place half of the salt/sugar/herb mixture on the plastic. Place the salmon skin-side down onto the mixture, and then carefully cover the fish with the rest of it Wrap tightly (I used a few extra pieces to get it good and tight) and let sit in the fridge for about 36 hours.
About an hour prior to service, unwrap the fish and take it out of the cure, blotting it dry with a paper towel and removing as much of the mixture as possible. Let sit in the fridge for another hour, and then slice into very thin slices with a very sharp knife to serve. We used cream cheese, some shallots pickled in red wine vinegar with a little salt, and Wasa crackers.