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Gravadlax with dill mustard sauce

Zest! CookbookMany of us have reason to be grateful for the tireless work and kindness of the Irish Hospice Foundation and Zest! (hardback, Irish Hospice Foundation, €20) is a beautiful new recipe collection from leading chefs all around Ireland, each of whom contributed recipes for a balanced three-course meal to raise funds for this exceptionally worthwhile cause.

But, charitable aims aside, this is a fine book in its own right and includes many gorgeously do-able recipes, such as this gravadlax donated by the stylish Dublin restaurant, Peploes, on St Stephen’s Green. Like vegetarian food, fish is especially appreciated at this time of year, and gravadlax makes a delicious alternative to traditional smoked salmon; you do have to remember to begin a couple of days ahead, but it is very simple to make.

Serves 8

Gravadlax with Dill Mustard Sauce from Zest Cookbook (Peploe's Restaurant)150g/5oz coarse sea salt
25g/8oz sugar
12 black peppercorns
12 juniper berries
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
900g/2lb salmon fillets (centre piece, pin boned, skin on)
100g/4oz fresh dill, chopped
3 bay leaves

For the dill-mustard sauce

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
150ml/5fl oz sunflower oil
4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper
Mixed lettuce leaves, boiled egg in quarters (optional), and toasted
good quality brown bread, to serve

For the gravadlax

• Combine the salt, sugar, peppercorns, juniper berries and mustard seeds in a food processor and blend for 30 seconds. Wash and dry the salmon fillet, making sure that it is free of any bones.

• Spread half of the salt and sugar mixture onto the bottom of a deep dish. Place the salmon on top, skin side down and cover with the dill and bay leaves. Spread the remainder of the salt and sugar mixture over the salmon and cover tightly with clingfilm.

• Keep the salmon for 24 hours in the fridge, then turn over the fillet and marinate for a further 24 hours.

• At the end of the two days, remove the salmon from the marinade and soak for 10 minutes in cold water. Pat the salmon dry, rub with a little oil and wrap tightly in clingfilm. It will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.
For the dill-mustard sauce

• Combine the mustard, sugar, honey and vinegar in a bowl and whisk together. Add the oil slowly, whisking all the time until you have a smooth mixture. Add the dill and season with salt and pepper.

To serve

• Slice the salmon thinly with a long sharp knife and arrange on the plates. Drizzle with the mustard sauce. Garnish each plate with some lettuce and quarter of a boiled egg (optional). Serve with a basket of the brown bread.

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