Recipe: Salmon Gravlax with Yogurt, Cucumber and Tarragon

“This is a simple-to-make, very refreshing summer appetizer,” says Zod Arifai, chef/owner of Blu in Montclair.

“Gravlax goes beautifully with a glass of sauvignon blanc, dry or sweet riesling or gewurtztraminer," Arifai says "It’s really more a technique than a recipe. By learning this it, you can cure your own salmon all year-round for basically the price of the fish alone, and not pay $25 a pound for gravlax at a deli counter.”

Serves: 4

For the Gravlax:

1 lb. very fresh raw salmon filet, skin removed
2 tbs. salt
1/2 tb. sugar

–Spread plastic wrap on counter. Lay salmon on plastic wrap.
–Mix salt and sugar and sprinkle the mixture evenly on both sides of salmon. Use all the
   salt/sugar mixture.
–Wrap plastic tightly around salmon and refrigerate 24-36 hours.
–Unwrap salmon, scrape off all sugar/salt with the back of a knife and wipe fish
   clean with paper towels.
–Refrigerate salmon till needed.

For the Cucumbers:

1 English Cucumber, skin on.
1/2 tsp. salt
Juice of one half lime

–Rough chop cucumber.
–Place in food processor with salt and lime juice.
–Pulse till cucumber bits are the size of rice grains
–Pour pulsed cucumber into a fine strainer positioned over a bowl. Let drain in     
   refrigerator 3-5 minutes.
–Do not discard the drained water. You will need it later.

For Tarragon Sauce:

2 sprigs fresh tarragon, use leaves only, discard stems.
2 tbs. fruity olive oil (Note: Among olive oils generally available in supermarkets,
   Spanish, Greek and Turkish oils tend to be more fruity; Italian and French oils tend to
   be more peppery.)
1/2 c. cucumber water from previous step

–Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix till an emulsion forms
   (Note: In a blender this will happen in a few seconds; in a processor it might take a few 
To Serve:

–Slice salmon to desired thickness
–Place 1 tb. yogurt (preferably Greek) in center of each of four appetizer-size plates
–Divide drained cucumber bits into four equal portions, spread evenly around the yogurt
   on each plate
–Drizzle tarragon sauce on yogurt and around plate. 1.5 tbs. should be enough for
   each plate. Don’t use too much or the dish will be too salty.
–Top with salmon and serve.

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