We’re embracing hygge: the key to Nordic well-being. Healthy yet hedonistic, it’s the secret to making the most of life’s simple pleasures.
A new book published this month, How to Hygge by Norwegian chef Signe Johansen, offers some great ways in to understanding the idea. Well worth a read, it includes this recipe, which we’ll definitely be trying soon.
Serves 8 as a starter
1.5kg salmon fillet, cut in half
1 tbsp white peppercorns
2 tbsp coriander seeds
100g granulated sugar
75g sea salt
1 shot of whisky
3 x 15g packs of dill, chopped
15g pack of dill, chopped
200g pack of Peter’s Yard sourdough crispbread butter
The traditional gravlaks cure is given a boozy, festive kick with the addition of whisky. It should be slightly more sweet than salty, but you can always use equal quantities of sugar and salt if you prefer. Always source the freshest possible salmon for this dish. If in doubt, freeze the fillet for 24 hours to kill any bacteria, then defrost it.
Dry the salmon, check for pin bones and then lay the fillet halves side by side, skin down, on a double layer of cling film. Crush the peppercorns and coriander in a pestle and mortar and then mix in a small bowl with the sugar and salt. Spread the whisky, then the dill over the skinless side of the salmon, then spread the spiced sugar and salt mix in a layer on top. Sandwich both fillets together so that the dill and spice mixture is in the middle and the skin is outermost. Cover any exposed surface of salmon with any dill and spice mixture that tumbles out. Wrap very tightly in the two layers of cling film and place in a small roasting tin to catch the brine that escapes the fish as it cures. Refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours and up to 48 hours.
Remove the gravlaks from the fridge, unwrap, wipe the fillet halves clean of the herby spiced salt with kitchen paper, pat dry and put on a board, skin down. Put a layer of chopped dill on the skinless side of each fillet and press down as much as you can without squashing the fish. Slice on the diagonal from the tail towards the middle and serve with sourdough crispbreads. And butter, always butter.
Tip: If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding beetroot, other alcohols (such as aquavit, cognac, gin or vodka) or juniper berries to the cure.