This gravlax has a terrific interplay of sweet and salty elements -- serve it on dark bread as an opening pass-around at a party
4-pound filet of very fresh salmon
1/4 cup gin
8 to 10 juniper berries, crushed
3/4 cup kosher salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons black peppercorns, crushed
1 large bunch dill, stems removed
1. Remove any bones from the salmon, and wipe any scales off with a paper towel. Line a large glass dish, at least 1 inch high, with two layers of plastic wrap that overhang the sides of the dish. Place the filet on the plastic wrap, skin side down.
2. Pour the gin evenly over the salmon. With the back of a heavy knife, break the juniper berries into coarse pieces. Spread the broken berries on the salmon and press in lightly so they do not fall off.
3. Combine the kosher salt, sugar, and peppercorns together in a small bowl. Mix with fingers until well blended. Spread the mixture evenly over the entire surface of the salmon.
4. Take three fourths of the dill and scatter it over the entire surface of the fish. Reserve the remaining dill.
5. Wrap the overhanging plastic wrap around the filet. Place a heavy skillet on top of the filet to weight the fish down evenly. Add additional weight, such as canned goods, to the skillet. Place all of this on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator and let sit for 3 days.
6. When ready to serve, take the salmon out of the plastic wrap. Wipe off the dill, the salt mixture, and the juniper berries. Chop the reserved fresh dill finely and spread evenly on the filet. Place the fish on a cutting board. Using a long, narrow, sharp knife and keeping the knife at a 30° angle, cut the salmon into thin slices (don't include the skin.) The traditional cut starts diagonally at one corner of the salmon, then works back toward the center of the filet.
This gravlax has a terrific interplay of sweet and salty elements—plus a lot more flavor than usual, thanks to the delicious addition of juniper and gin. Serve it on dark bread as an opening pass-around at a party, or make a main course of it—broad gravlax slices, accompanied by mustardy potato salad, tart cucumber salad, dark bread, and a bottle of frozen aquavit. Makes about 80 slices