Monday, February 27, 2012

Panacea: Gravlax

 On a perfectly crisp day during winter break, I was at a fancy craft fair in a backyard in Angelino Heights, a block away from Carroll Avenue (one of those amazing secret treasures of Los Angeles that you really ought to see), with my friends Rachel and Jodi.  Rachel turned to us and said one of those things that, in normal circles, would be totally weird, but among us is perfectly normal.  Par for the course, actually.  All excited, she said, "You guys!  We should start a club where we cure things! Like, make sausages, and gravlax, and stuff like that!  Wouldn't that be awesome?!"  And supportive friends that we are, we totally agreed.  Of course it would be awesome.
As we browsed the crafts, we fleshed this idea out, and eventually I even came up with a name for our club: Panacea.  Because, you see, we cure all.  And on new year's eve day, our planacea became reality.
Our first project was gravlax:  a Swedish dish of salmon cured with a sugar and salt mixture and aromatic herbs.  After a few days wrapped tightly in the fridge, you wipe all that stuff off the fish's surface, and end up with a salty-sweet, flavorful product, ready to be sliced thin and eaten on dark bread (or whatever you want).
Guided by a great book called Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It, the three of us took a few slow-foodish hours, and in the end, were on our way to having created something that felt really substantial.  Using recipes in the book, we made two varieties of gravlax:  one classic, packed with lots of fresh dill, and the other, with fresh fennel and orange zest.
I come from a long line of women who crowd into kitchens together, and have had a good share of girly dinner parties with my own friends, too.  There's an efficient, perfect rhythm to women cooking together.  The three of us worked so well with each other:  sharing tasks, cleaning as we went along.  We shared the same space gracefully, all the while gabbing, catching up, laughing a lot.
Things went so well that we even DIY'ed a batch of ricotta cheese once the gravlax were prepped.  But that's a story for another day.   For now, gravlax.  And Murray.
oh, hello, Murray
PS It's Rachel's birthday today!  Happy, happy birthday, Rachel!


  1. I love everything about this!

  2. Yay! Thanks for the birthday shout out and awesome post! Let's do it again in April.

  3. Thanks ladies. Yes to April, and Peggy, you should join us!

  4. i tried making gravlax two weeks ago for the first time and was SHOCKED at how easy and delicious it was... i want to try the fennel next time, good idea!

  5. ashley, let us know how the fennel goes for you!

    and sinosoul, of course! did you expect any less from a card carrying member of Club Sandwich?