recipe: gravlax, asian stylee.

i had a fresh, hefty salmon fillet i didn't feel like eating right away, but i was afraid a couple days in the fridge would do it harm, so i decided make gravlax, or cured salmon. gravlax is a swedish word, coming from grava, which means "to bury" (from the original method of burying the cured fish in the ground) and lax, or "salmon". i wasn't planning on burying it, although if i had that kim chee refrigerator, i'd be stylin'.

i decided to change my normal method for curing, which is traditional and uses a lot of dill for flavour. i took my cues from chef roy yamaguchi, who has several restaurants around the pacific rim that specialize in what he calls hawaiian fusion cuisine. one of the appetizers i've tried in his restaurant on island is an oriental-style cured salmon, which was wonderfully scented with lemongrass and ginger.

to make gravlax, you must cut the salmon fillet into two equal portions, leaving the skin on, but making several slashes in the skin. rub a couple tablespoons of vodka or sake all over the fish, then follow with a little white miso paste. in a bowl, combine equal parts of kosher salt, white sugar, and brown sugar (a quarter cup of each should be enough if your fillet is less than a pound). massage this mixture well into the exposed salmon flesh. prepare a mix of the following:

minced ginger
minced garlic
chopped lemongrass
chopped cilantro

spread this onto the exposed sides of the fish, then lay sliced ginger and a good handful of cilantro onto one fillet (and star anise if you like the flavour) then place the second fillet on top of it with the exposed sides facing each other, like a sandwich. wrap this bundle tightly in foil or clingfilm, then in a resealable bag. keep in refrigerator, weighted down--a storage box of leftovers, a six pack of beer, a wheel of cheese, whatever. resist the urge to peek for 24 hours.

the next day, open up the packet. the salmon should start to get a little translucent and compact. flip the fillets so the skin sides are pressed together (keep the ginger, cilantro and star anise in the middle as well), rewrap, refrigerate and weight. and wait. for another 24 hours.

when it is done, the salmon should be sort of a cross between sashimi and lox, almost candied. slice thinly to serve.

i decided to serve mine on shiso (perilla) leaves. another hawaiian chef, alan wong, has an appetizer in his cookbook, new wave luau, of sizzled salmon belly and smoked salmon in chiso (shiso) leaves, which is where i got the idea.

mince the gravlax finely, with chopped cilantro, onion sprouts, and a squeeze of lemon and place on heaping mound on an individual shiso leaf. top with a mixture of sour cream, wasabi paste, and lemon.

simple, elegant, different.


Ur pictures and recipes are really inspiring!Linking you if it's okay:)


hey, i made your panzanella salad. it's awesome!


Hi Santos,

Looks yummy! I love the slightly peppery taste of the shiso leaf. You've got a lot of flavor going on there, spicy, sweet, tart, tangy! Wonderful!

Oh, lucky lucky you can buy the shiso leaf in Guam. No such luck here in the desert!

Hi Santos, looks and sounds amazing. I like cured fish of any kind and any recipe that involves sake and miso gets my salivary glands working. Not keen on shiso leaf though now i can see it makes a very pretty plate.

what is the pink stuff in the first picture? Is it the plastic wrap? Gives your picture a disco feel.


hi min--thanks for stopping by. me love food too :-)

purplegirl--thanks for trying out the recipe, it is good, isn't it? ah, and you probably assembled it in your fabyooluss kitchen....

hey reid--so ono, this. and easy, too. it's great for parties because a little really goes a long way. your major expense is the fish, but you only need one fillet. if i bring it to parties, i roll the gravlax in the shiso like little cigars or i just bring it in bowl and with hawaiian 10 grain lavosh.

hey jonny--welcome! i found shiso seeds for sale online. they look like they might be an easy kitchen sill/window box sort of herb, you might want to try it--i'm thinking about it myself.

hey umami--i like shiso leaves, but the flavour can get pretty overwhelming. if you like bitter, those long endive or arugala leaves would be good, or i'll bet fried wonton skins would be gorgeous *and* tasty.

disco?! i was going for late-eighties rave. next time i'll try green plastic wrap ;-)

Shiso, it's unique and I miss it. It's great around a bit of raw tuna and is a nice addition to deep fried cheese spring rolls.

Gravlax looks great, my Dad is coming back from a fishing town in Tasmania so I'm hoping for some salmon. Jeez I dropped enough hints.

Thanks Santos, I ordered some shiso seeds and I'll grow it myself. Much easier than driving all the way to Los Angeles Koreatown. ;-)

hey anthony--hope you get something good from the fishing expedition

hey jonny--let me know how it goes. i heard it does really well in warm weather; if that's true, you and i shouldn't have a problem growing it!

G'day, have been busy these few days so only grab some fast food when hungry, luckiy I found a brilliant way to get over those boring food -> by looking at your pictures when eating ...yum yum..seriously, if you stare hard enough, you can almost taste them....Mik

g'day mik

funny, if i stare long enough, i get heartburn.

Your making me so hungry already!