Blackberry Grav Lax

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BLACKBERRY GRAV LAX
Serves 8-10

In this Grav Lax recipe salt, in combination with the sugar, alcohol and fruit is used to draw moisture out of the flesh and preserve the fish. Giving it a lovely smooth texture and a very slight salty taste. The traditional Scandinavian Grav Lax, has had an overhaul with blackberries, creating a stunning fillet, that looks great on your smorgasbord.

1 kg Salmon Fillet, skin on, pin boned
½ cup/70g Sea Salt Flakes
¼ cup Raw Sugar (weigh)
2 tsp Heilala Vanilla Powder (seeds from 2 vanilla pods)
2 tbsp freshly ground Pepper
3 cups/ 400 g Frozen or fresh Blackberries
1/3 cup/ 1 dl Snaps
2 tbsp fennel seeds

Horseradish Dip:

Horseradish cream
Sour cream
Salt & Pepper to taste

Serving:

Rye Bread
Micro greens (coriander & beetroot sprouts or watercress)
Lemon rind
Blackberries

Method Grav Lax:

Place sea salt, sugar, vanilla powder, pepper, blackberries, snaps and fennel seeds in a food processor or blender, and blitz to mix.

Place the salmon skin side down on several layers of cling film, (enough to wrap around and cover the salmon), and place on a baking tray. Using tweezers, remove the pin bones along the side of the salmon fillet. Spread the salt and blackberry mixture over the fish, making sure it’s completely covered. Then wrap the cling film tightly around the salmon. Place a second baking tray or chopping board over the fillet and weigh it down with a heavy item (Weighing the fish down, is not usually part of traditional Swedish curing technique, however it’s often used in Southern Hemisphere cooking, to help draw moisture out. This technique may give the fish a tougher texture).

Refrigerate and cure for at least 24 hours, up to 48 hours.

Remove the cling film and clean the seasoning mixture from the salmon with a wet teatowel. Avoid rinsing the filet, under the tap, as this will rinse out the beautiful red colour. Serve thinly sliced on toasted rye bread, garnish with micro herbs (ie coriander & beetroot sprouts or watercress), lemon rind, blackberries and horseradish dip (see method below).

Method Dip:

Mix horseradish cream and sour cream, evenly 50/50 and season with sea salt and pepper to your liking.

The Grav Lax will keep 3-4 days, chilled.

Cooking note: It is important to use sea salt crystals and not rock salt, as flavour and texture will vary greatly.

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This recipe is part of my salt story published in MAD&venner #129 2015 & Matmagasinet Nord #23 2017, focusing on using salt as a main ingredient for cooking or flavouring. Try these recipes from this series too:
Salt & Vinegar Potato Skins
Pork Belly in Brine with Cripsy Crackling
Salt Dough Baked Leg of Lamb

© Manja Wachsmuth 2017

Salt

Salt recipes

Over the years, I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with salt. Ever since my shoot at Læsø Salt, I’ve been testing recipes, using salt as a main part of the dish. Wether it be preserving, a cooking technique or just adding a salty flavour to the food. The whole thing has been quite an experience, entering the world of recipe writing! I’ve been fortunate enough to have my salt recipes published in the current summer issue of NORD magazine along with my article about Læsø Salt Works.

Below follows the unedited version of the article, and over the next few weeks, I’ll share a series of blog posts, with my salty recipes:

BLACBERRY GRAV LAX
ZINGY MARGARITA & PINK GRAPEFRUIT MARGARITA
SALT & VINEGAR POTATOSKINS WITH TAHINI, SOUR CREAM DIP
PORK BELLY IN BRINE WITH CRISPY CRACKLING
SALT DOUGH LEG OF LAMB
SALTED CHOCOLATE AND CARAMEL TART(S)
GOLDEN PAVLOVA WITH SUMMER BERRIES AND SALTED CHOCOLATE SAUCE
SALTED CARAMEL ICE CREAM (you’re gonna wanna check back for this one…)

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COOKING WITH SALT
Salt has been used for cooking for thousands of years, in many cultures around the globe. Before the invention of the refrigerator, salt has been one of the most important preservation methods of meat and fish and as one of the 5 main flavors (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami), salt is an important and recognizable part of our daily life when it comes to cooking.

The modern day’s introduction of ready-made foods and fast food has given salt a really bad reputation. However, there are many ways to utilize the salt’s good qualities in the kitchen to preserve, slowcook or give untraditional taste in the sweet kitchen.

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A TRULY IDYLLIC PLACE!
We are on the island of Læsø in Denmark. Læsø is a small island in Kattegat, just off the east coast of the peninsula Jutland, Denmark. Half an hour sailing from Frederikshavn you will find this idyllic island, also called the gem of Kattegat. When you leave the ferry (or almost already when boarding) you know that you are on island time. It is quite a wind blown place but also peacefull. It is filled with nostalgia and the passing days of old Danish fishermen and village charm. This is really the outskirts of Denmark, but if you feel stressed, you’ve come to the right place: Here you can relax!

The island has a fantastic and unique nature and you will find the beauty in the little things. The island is known for its scampi festival in August and the cute timbered houses with seeweed roofs.

On the edge of a pine forest, south of Byrum, bordering the open part of the truly windy parts of Læsø lies Læsø Saltworks. It is both a place where they make Læsø Salt, but also a tourist attraction that in a very gripping way, tells the story of life on Læsø in the past and gives a living sight of how to make salt.

The salt they make here more than measures up to some of the world’s leading salt brands and I would venture to say it’s something very special. Due to the high concentration of salt in the sea around Læsø (up to 14%, against normal 2-3%), the sea salt has been harvested on Læsø since the Middle Ages, but later died due to shortage of fire wood and sand drift.

Back in 1990, when archaeologists began studying the history of Læsø, the idea of ​​salt seething on Læsø was revived with the discoveries made by the archaeologists. Today the salt is made according to the old traditions and recipes.

Entering the seething room, it’s warm, humid and dark. The only light is a lamp over the huge seething pan, as well as a bit of daylight flowing under the grassy roof and the open doorway. It’s almost like going straight back into the Middle Ages. This is how the seethery looks. It is designed from archaeologists’ findings of the original salt works, which lay here hundreds of years ago. Saltwater is taken from wells, dug into the lowest parts of southern Læsø and in the saltworks the water is set to evaporate in large pans over open fire. The big pans look like a huge bathtub, with steamy water, as you imagine it would look like in a movie about the wild Northmen from the 16th century.

When the salt layer is saturated, the salt crystals are formed on the surface and poured into baskets where the residual water runs off before the salt is added to drying on the drying ceiling. The salt is handmade with respect for nature’s surroundings on the island, and they also give a demonstration of how to sethe salt yourself.

All by-products of the process are used for the Læsø Salt Care skin care series and are excellent treatment for people with dry skin or psoriasis. The salt retains many of its natural minerals such as calcium and magnesium and has a rich flavour. It is porous enough to crush between two fingers. Læsø Salt is the preservation of a lost art and pride and a tasty and beautiful product that is good for many types of cooking, not just to sprinkle over an egg. A visit here inspires a desire to retrieve cooking methods of a bygone era using salt dough for long-term cooking and cure salmon in a new way, as well as exploring salt in the sweet kitchen. One of nature’s most exciting taste contradictions with a lingering selection of salty sweet sensations. From irresistible caramel ice cream to decadent chocolate tart and sweet pavlova, it’s hard to resist this winning combination.

You can check out more of my images from Læsø Salt Works here. And read more about what else to do on Læsø, here & here

 

Amass Copenhagen

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With summer just around the corner here in New Zealand, and a trip to Denmark planned for Christmas, I’ve been thinking back on my trip home to Denmark in June, earlier this year. Back then I was doing a few travel stories about Denmark and specifically Copenhagen for Dish Magazine here in New Zealand. I also had the pleasure of doing a shoot with Matt Orlando at Restaurant Amass Copenhagen, to be included in a travel piece on Copenhagen. I was incredibly intrigued by the athmosphere at Amass, and Matt’s approach to the “New Nordic Cuisine” style of restaurant and cooking. The whole place, everyone there and Matt himself, just oozes “cool” and I can’t wait to go back and actually dine there and be able to take the whole place in, on a more relaxed level. I hope and wonder if it’s just as awesome in winter…

Copenhagen Standard

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While I was in Denmark for the month of June, I also photographed a travel story on the food scene in Copenhagen for Dish Magazine. The article is written by food writer, cook book editor, self acclaimed foodie and now also cook book author Marie Holm. I first met Marie, when I started shooting for Danish food magazine MAD&venner (FOOD&friends) back in 2008, before I left Copenhagen to go travelling. Back then Marie worked for the magazine, but today she is freelancing, working for all sorts of magazines, publishers and others who needs Marie’s expertise as an experienced food writer.

When I first came to New Zealand in 2009, with my portfolio and a stack of MAD&venner magazines under my arm, I was thrilled when Dish magazine booked me, and every year since I’ve been trying to talk them into doing some sort of story on Copenhagen. This time they finally jumped on it, and I was fortunate enough to talk Marie Holm into writing the story, as I knew there wouldn’t be anyone more perfect for it. Now the story is out in recent issue of Dish Magazine (#55 August 2014). Unfortunately I can’t publish it here (so you should go buy the magazine to read Marie’s brilliant story), but I can show off some of the extra photos, that didn’t make the cut for the article.

First off we have a new favorite of mine. Claus Meyer and Torsten Vildgaard’s new place The Standard. Based in what used to be the former Custom House, they’ve opened up 3 new restaurants and a jazz club. I visited two of those restaurants: Studio and Alamanak, to photograph for the article and although I’ve only been in Copenhagen this time for 2 weeks in total, I still managed to eat at Almanak 3 times for lunch. What can I say? The food is great – I just love that liver patee (pictured above)! Danish smørrebrød, open sandwiches, with a modern, New Nordic twist. I suppose it has become the new Copenhagen Standard for me. The other restaurant, Studio, is definitely more of a fine dining place of the New Nordic Cuisine caliber, and I suppose former Noma souschef Torsten Vildgaard’s playground – his Studio. Unfortunately I didn’t get to actually eat at Studio this time, although I hope to return and have the pleasure of Torstens genius cooking.

More photos from my favorite city in the world, Copenhagen, later. Thanks for stopping by!

Visit Strandgaarden Badehotel

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My last stop for the day of my visit to Læsø this time around was Strandgaarden Badehotel.

Strandgaarden beach hotel offers an idyllic setting and located just 4 minutes walk to the beach, it’s the perfect spot for a relaxing summer holiday. I could have stayed here for weeks on end, reading, relaxing, swimming, and taking heaps more photos, enjoying the Danish summer when it’s at its best. This place is so quaint and cute, that I just had to dedicate a whole blog post to it.

The hotel was built in 1727 and parts of the original building are still in use. The owner takes pride in keeping the hotel in its original idyllic state with thatched roof and half timbering, but with all the commodities of modern day living. Such is the hotel kitchen, which each year has a new, up and coming Danish chef have a chance to stand up to the big boys, with the title as head chef at Strandgaarden Badehotel. The owner Ole Lind, has gotten pretty good at picking them, and for many years Strandgaarden has earned much appraisal in the media across Denmark. Every evening the menu changes according to the season and what’s available on the island, so what’s served tonight will most likely not be served tomorrow. The element of surprise is one of the things I find intriguing about the restaurant here alongside the presentation of the food by the table, by the kitchen chefs – Nicolas Højgaard Michaels and head chef Thomas Wetle Andersen.

I was served:

Homemade Sourdough Rolls & Browned Butter stirred with Butter Milk, Crème Fraiche and Onion Powder
Amuse Bouche: Seaweed Chips, Lobster Mayo and Chervil + Pork Belly, Parsley Puree and Spiced Crackling
Starter: Scampi, Kohlrabi and Green Strawberries
Main: Lobster, Scallops and Yellow Peas
Dessert: Dark Chocolate, Truffle and Blackberry Granita
All accompanied by a Sparkling Rosé to begin, a NZ Honky Dory Sauvignon Blanc for the starter and the main and a Riesling to end.

Thumbs up to both of the chefs! I loved the sourdough rolls with the browned butter, and if it wasn’t because it requires some pretty expensive, high end pro kitchen gear, I would make that butter myself. Everything else was delicious too, particularly the main, which really played with, not just the flavours but also the textures. It’s not often I say it, but the highlight of the meal was definitely the dessert. The surprising taste of the chocolate cake, which I was told later was the influence of the truffle, was really interesting and intriguing. I suppose after shooting a sweet and savoury book about Vanilla, those combinations of savoury flavours with sweet or vice versa, is really something I notice.

After a very tasty meal, a quick chat to the chefs and tons of photos later, I had to end the evening watching the sunset on the beach. It’s one of those things I love! It’s the perfect ending to a perfect day, before going to sleep in one of Strandgaarden’s super comfortable beds.

Thanks to Ole Lind at Strandgaarden Badehotel for excellent service! Read more about Strandgaarden on their website or join their facebook page for regular news and updates.

Next up are some of things I got up to in Copenhagen, so please come back soon!

Idyllic island Laesoe in Denmark

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If you’ve been following my instagram feed or my facebook page lately, you might have noticed that I’ve been on a trip home to my native Denmark recently. Having only just returned to New Zealand last week, I’m struggling to cope with the depressing wet New Zealand winter weather and the lack of proper heating and insulation at my studio. So I have emerged myself into working through all the images I’ve done, while I’ve been away.

Over the next month or so, I’ll keep the theme of the blog in the name of Denmark, Danish summer, Copenhagen eateries and all things Danish, while I wait for the New Zealand summer to return. If you love everything Scandinavian and miss summer too (or are in fact enjoying Danish summer at the moment), I’m sure there’ll be something for you to be inspired about, get your wanderlust itching again or just take your mind off the crappy weather for a bit.

I’ll start by introducing a place that’s very close to home, or should I say close to “my hometown” and my heart. Somewhere truly idyllic! The Island Læsø in Denmark or Laesoe (in English) is a small island in the North Sea bay Kattegat, just off the coast of the peninsula Jutland, the Danish mainland.

An hour and a half’s ferry ride from my hometown Frederikshavn, you’ll find this idyllic island, also referred to as Kattegat’s perle: “The Pearl of Kattegat”. Once you step off the ferry (or pretty much when you get on it actually), you know you’re on island time. My grandmother grew up here, so I’ve been coming here since I was a little girl, but it’s only after I moved to New Zealand, I’ve come to actually really love this place. It is windblown (due to the lack of hills) but peacefull. It’s full of nostalgica and by gone days of old school Danish fishermen and small town charm. This is truly the outskirts of Denmark, but if you are feeling stressed out, you’ve come to the right place to relax! The island has an amazing and unique nature, and you’ll find the beauty in the small things, such as riding a bike from one end of the island to the other (21km), go horseback riding on Icelandic Ponies or taking a swim at one of the many beaches. The island is known for it’s scampi festival in August and the cute half-timbered houses thatched with seaweed.

The next few upcoming posts, I’ll show a few of the really great places on the island, Læsø Salt Works and a really good place to eat (and sleep). So please stay tuned!