In this variation of traditional gravlax inspired by Diane Wiese, the matriarch of one of Cordova’s fishing families, blueberries are added to the dry curing mixture and spread over the fish. The berries add a deep blue tinge of color to the surface while adding a little sweetness that pairs well with the salty flesh of the salmon. The coriander and lime zest add a hint of citrus aromas. Once the fish is cured and cut into thin slices, the result is a beautiful combination of dark blue and pink colors that can be served over slices of toasted pumpernickel or rye bread with a sprinkling of freshly chopped chives and a little mustard or horseradish sauce.
- Pat the salmon dry with a clean paper towel and place it flesh side up on a large sheet of parchment paper.
- Mix the salt and sugar in a small bowl and rub both sides of the fish with it. Now drizzle the vodka over the flesh of the fish.
- In a mortar and pestle, crush the blueberries with the coriander seeds until coarse and stir in the black pepper and lime zest. Spoon the mixture over the surface of the fish.
- Wrap the fish with the ends of the parchment paper and then with a sheet of aluminum foil. Place the wrapped salmon in a tray and then place a flat 3-lb weight, such as a small cast-iron or ceramic dish, over the fish. Place it in the refrigerator and flip the fish every 8 to 12 hours. The gravlax will be ready within 36 to 48 hours when it is firm to touch.
Nik Sharma is an award-winning freelance food writer and photographer. He also writes a recipe-based food column for the San Francisco Chronicle called A Brown Kitchen and is also the author of the blog A Brown Table. He is currently working on his first cookbook, Season (Chronicle Books), which will be published in fall 2018. He lives in Oakland, California.