Jump to content

Luxury food: lox / gravlax / rauchlachs


Recommended Posts

This luxury food, at its most basic, is cured dill-flavoured salmon. That is called 'gravlax', pronounced grovlox, in Scandinavia. American Jews and Germans cold-smoke it and call it lox or 'rauchlachs', respectively.

 

So those are the variations: cured salmon, with or without cold-smoking.

 

Recipe, per 1 pound of raw salmon:

1 lb filet of salmon

2 tablespoons salt (course-grained sea salt is best)

2 tablespoons white sugar (brown sugar is ok too)

2 teaspoons ground pepper (I use black, white is also ok)

1 tablespoon of gin

A bunch of dill, sufficient to cover

 

You'll need plastic wrap, and something to hold the fish - like a glass baking dish - because it will leak liquid, by design.

 

Mix the salt/sugar/pepper well. Add the gin and mix again. You'll have nice-smelling gray sludge.

 

Pull out about 2 feet of plastic wrap, place the salmon fillet on it skin side down (or if there's no skin, the smooth side that had skin goes down).

 

Cover the salmon filet with the sludge, spreading evenly, but a bit extra on thicker parts. Put the dill on top, and wrap tightly. (You will certainly need to wrap it twice or three times for it to be tight. Push out as much air as you can to make it tight.)

 

Put the wrapped filet in the the glass baking dish dill side up, then in the fridge. Leave it there untouched for 2 or 3 days. It should leak.

 

After 2 or three days, unpack it all, throw out the wrap and dill and rinse the salmon well. Soak it in three changes of ice water, which gets rid of excess salt.

 

This page shows the basic recipe, with pictures. My additions are the gin and cold-smoking.

 

At this point you can slice thin slices (on the bias; off the skin if there's skin) and serve as Danish gravlax. Or you can cold-smoke it (3 to 4 hours), and then serve it as Jewish lox or German rauchlax.

 

Either way, it will be way better than bought lox/gravlax/smoked salmon, and also much less expensive.

 

I get salmon at Sam's Club, no skin, between two and three pounds, $7.99/lb or less. Here in Florida, I can only cold-smoke on cool winter nights. I'm doing it right now because the temperature is around 60°F.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mmmm. Love both gravlax and lox.

 

What is you cold smoking method?

 

Bill

I got this MacsProQ from the UK, before a US version was available. The small one will smoke for up to 9 hours. (That's what I have. I smoke for 4 hours.)

 

Now there's this US version, for less money :).

 

Caution: the Amazon page says "wood chips". It must be real fine sawdust, not tiny chips. If the sawdust is even a bit damp, it won't work. Tampa is humid, so I put it in the microwave for 30 seconds until it's bone dry. Then it always works perfectly.

 

I like red oak and maple for lox. (Use only hardwood.)

 

Either way, when it's cool outside, you put it into something closed that allows a bit of air. A metal grill is perfect, but even a big cardboard box would do.

 

After smoking, I wrap it up then eat it the next morning. Which I've just done. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I got this MacsProQ from the UK, before a US version was available. The small one will smoke for up to 9 hours. (That's what I have. I smoke for 4 hours.)

 

Now there's this US version, for less money :).

 

Caution: the Amazon page says "wood chips". It must be real fine sawdust, not tiny chips. If the sawdust is even a bit damp, it won't work. Tampa is humid, so I put it in the microwave for 30 seconds until it's bone dry. Then it always works perfectly.

 

I like red oak and maple for lox. (Use only hardwood.)

 

Either way, when it's cool outside, you put it into something closed that allows a bit of air. A metal grill is perfect, but even a big cardboard box would do.

 

After smoking, I wrap it up then eat it the next morning. Which I've just done. :D

 

What provides the heat source for the sawdust to smoke?

 

I've done a good deal of hot smoking (mostly using a Big Green Egg) but have never taken on a cold smoking (which for items like fish is far superior to my taste).

 

Bill

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The BGE is my grill/hot smoker too. It's also the enclosure I use for cold smoking. It retains heat very well, so it's not the ideal enclosure for cold smoking, but I don't want to buy a metal grill. It's fine if it's cool outside.

 

The initial ignition of the sawdust is done by a tea light candle, identical to a Catholic votive candle. Once properly lit (30 to 90 seconds, depends on humidity), you remove the candle, and the sawdust stays lit with no further flame. It exudes a thin steam of smoke, and almost no heat.

 

The tea light goes into the slot you see. A further convenience is to put it in the bottom half of a little tin to catch any melted wax. The tin fits into that slot. (The tins are sold with mints, usually.)

 

I consider the sawdust picture below to be not fine enough to reliably keep burning. I like finer sawdust.

 

American version:

coldsmoker_rook_carrousel_brandend.jpg

 

Original UK version, proper fineness of sawdust in this pic. I fill the outer band to halfway into the second handle, for four hours of smoking.

71F6i0Sw8wL._SL1000_.jpg

 

Tin is about 1.5 inches wide, just big enough to squish in a tealight candle. You remove the lid.

 

Altoids-mints-sized-tin.png

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the excellent explanation.

 

A couple questions:

 

When you use the BGE how do you set the daisy wheel on top and the sliding vent below?

 

If these go 4 hours, is that typically enough time to smoke something like a salmon fillet, or is it necessary to reload?

 

And how are the results? Do you get near a great Nova or Scottish smoked salmon?

 

I'm intrigued.

 

Bill

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the excellent explanation.

 

A couple questions:

 

Thanks. I live to serve. :D

 

For cold smoking:

BGE daisy wheel: tiny crack, 1 or 2 mm.

BGE sliding vent: tiny crack 2 or 3 mm.

 

The sawdust isn't burning, just smouldering and smoking.

 

Time: for me, 4 hours gives significant smoke flavor with oak/maple.

 

If it wasn't enough, I'd put more sawdust in to begin with, so I don't have to reload. Filling the UK version I have yields about 9 hours of smoke. I believe that this would make the salmon too smokey. Also, for a longer smoke, I'd prefer lower temperatures and maybe a preservative pink salt cure, not just regular salt. But more than 4 hours would be excessive smoke. I want to taste smoked salmon, not just smoked smoke.;)

 

Results: the results vary depending on humidity, temperature and the fish itself. The best lox I've done is every bit as good as the best Scottish smoked salmon that I've splurged on, at anywhere from $40 to $80 per pound... or more. The worst is still way better than packaged grocery store lox at $25/lb.

 

Today's was pretty good. Good smoke flavor, very little dill (I prefer more). Not over salted, because of the soaking. The thin part of the fish was a bit dry, but the thick part retained all that nice yummy salmon oil.

 

Mostly I just use cheap Sam's Club salmon ($7.99/lb), and do 2 to 3 pounds in a single go. I have also tried wild caught salmon, including Pacific Coho. There was no significant difference in taste,but the Coho had much darker flesh, red.

 

I'm pretty sure that the major factors are humidity and temperature.

 

But like I said, the worst it's been is still way better than store-bought regular packaged lox.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I actually found myself dreaming (or thinking in a state of semi-sleep) about cold smoking some salmon last night.

 

Weird ideas, like how to cool the BGE?, and where I was going to source hardwood sawdust.

 

As with Florida, the window for low temps is a narrow one here in Los Angeles (with less humidity here).

 

I deeply appreciate the time put into the explainations.

 

One more question (if I may) how do you set up your Egg when you cold smoke?

 

Appreciate the time and info!

 

Bill

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Weird ideas, like how to cool the BGE?, and where I was going to source hardwood sawdust.

 

As with Florida, the window for low temps is a narrow one here in Los Angeles (with less humidity here).

 

I deeply appreciate the time put into the explainations.

 

One more question (if I may) how do you set up your Egg when you cold smoke?

 

Appreciate the time and info!

 

Bill

No problem. :D

 

I don't cool the BGE. I only cold smoke when I know the temperature is dropping below 65°F, and in Tampa that's Dec/Jan, with a better chance after sundown.

 

Not much setup involved. Once the sawdust is smoking (after about 90 seconds of candle flame), I set the device onto the charcoal, sitting flat. (Obviously the charcoal isn't burning, just used as a place to put the device.) The grill goes on, and the two filets of salmon go onto a V-rack, on the grill. I close up the BGE with tiny openings for air. Once an hour I check back to make sure there's a tiny stream of smoke coming out of the daisy wheel. That's it. About 4 hours later, there's no more smoke. I wrap up the fish with cling wrap and refrigerate, clean the device with water, go to bed, eat lox the next day.

 

The American device has some bad reviews. I think people aren't using it properly. It needs fine sawdust and I think they're getting sold 1 mm chips. When I bought 5 lbs worth of maple chips (that were called sawdust) a few years ago, I found them to be not fine enough. So I ran a few pounds through an old blender. Worked great. My original oak dust was finer, and I still have much of that left too. I still have some maple that needs to be 'blended', but it's just sooooo boring to do that. :) Plus, what I have ready will last years and years.

 

V-rack:

v_rack.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I actually found myself dreaming (or thinking in a state of semi-sleep) about cold smoking some salmon last night.

 

Weird ideas, like how to cool the BGE?, and where I was going to source hardwood sawdust.

 

As with Florida, the window for low temps is a narrow one here in Los Angeles (with less humidity here).

 

I deeply appreciate the time put into the explainations.

 

One more question (if I may) how do you set up your Egg when you cold smoke?

 

Appreciate the time and info!

 

Bill

I would think most lumber sales would have saw dust. Like Lowes custom cuts wood. A cabinet maker. A house building job site.

 

My desire is drift wood. I use to spend summers in New Port Beach. Back then (60's) you could have fires on the beach. In any event cooking hot dogs on that salt wood are the best you will ever have. Up this way in San Francisco beaches you are not allowed to gather drift wood. Sucks!!! Inland where I live on the delta the drift wood is mostly long gone, but not salty.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...