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

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!

Vanilla Table

Vanilla Lacquer Duck Leg with Shanghai Dim Sum & Lychee Lime Relish, recipe by Paul Jobin, food styling by Natasha MacAller Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs, by Natasha MacAller, published by Bateman NZ © 2013Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs, by Natasha MacAller, published by Bateman NZ © 2013 Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs, by Natasha MacAller, published by Bateman NZ © 2013Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs, by Natasha MacAller, published by Bateman NZ © 2013 Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs, by Natasha MacAller, published by Bateman NZ © 2013

Following Wednesdays book launch of Natasha MacAller’s  Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the worlds best chefs, the book we spent most of last year working on, and talking about, is finally out in the shops. Today I spotted it front forward at Queen Street, Auckland’s Whitcoull’s right next to Donna Hay’s new book, so that couldn’t be better placement really! Hopefully Donna will help us with the sales!

Natasha and I met when I was shooting Peter Gordon’s Everyday book, back in October 2011. Peter & Natasha has been great friends for years, so I was very honoured to firstly have Peter recommend me, even before his own book was finished, and secondly to have Natasha actually pick me, to shoot her fabulous book project. We started early 2012, where I went to stunning Bay of Islands, to shoot the first 3rd of the book with Natasha. We had a marathon of a week, up to our necks in delicious food and treats, and vanilla coming out of our ears- in fact I’m pretty sure I was sweating vanilla by the end of it. And Natasha got her first taste of what she signed up for, when shooting a book. It’s bloody hard work!

Later, midway through the year, I went to London to shoot the 2nd batch of recipes, and while it’s fabulous to travel around the world, doing what I love to do: Shoot food, I didn’t really get to see much of London that week. Finally back in Auckland, I got a beautiful delivery from Heilala Vanilla’s green house in Tauranga, the stunning vanilla orchid plant and fresh beens pictured inside the cover, and we finished off with the 3rd batch of recipes in November, while I just managed to stay sane, before my wedding in early December.

Finally the long wait is over, and we can enjoy the labour of our work. It’s so rewarding finally to have a heavy copy in your hand, flicking through the pages, and seeing all the ideas we had for look and layout come to life. We wanted to focus entirely on the styling of the food, so decided to pull back completely on the proping, and rely on beautiful textures, subtle tones of white, sand & blue and organic, modern shapes. I think the texture of the fabric really comes to life this way, and especially the feel of the cover. I could’t be more pleased, and am looking forward to trying out all the recipes again.

Unfortunately the recipes are copyrighted, and we don’t want to give away too much, so head down to your local bookstore this labour weekend, and pick up Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world’s best chefs, by Natasha MacAller. Published by Bateman.

Recipes pictured:

Vanilla Lacquer Duck Leg, recipe by Paul Jobin, food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: black slate tile borrowed from John Lewis at Kauri Cliffs, blue napkin by Fog Linen Work

The Pork Chop, recipe and food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: gray slate photographers own, steak knife food stylists own, Alessi jar and bowl from Simon James Concept Store

Rum & Vanilla Cured Salmon, recipe by Douglas Rodriguez, food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: vintage stilton plate from Flotsam & Jetsam, bowl from Wonki Ware, porcelain spoon from The Conran Shop

The Lobster Roll, recipe and food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: platter by Wonki Ware, napkin by Fog Linen Work

Peach, Cardamom & Vanilla Sable Breton, recipe by Jim Dodge, food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: platter from Freedom Furniture

Scottish Shortbread Sundae with Blueberry Ice Cream, recipe by Duff Goldman, food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: vintage stilton plate and antique chiffon from Flotsam & Jetsam, porcelain for from The Conran Shop