Gravlax with Caraway, Coriander, and Mustard-Dill Sauce

Seasons of life come and go, much like the spring showers turn into summer rays and the falling leaves turn into falling flakes of snow. With each year that passes we gain new experiences, learn hard life lessons, meet new people and say goodbye to others. Everything that we go through helps shape the people we are or will become. Even as a 28-year old I go through things that slightly change my perspective.

As I get older and find a tight-knit community of friends, I realize how much I love sharing life with people. Not to say that I don't enjoy a few hours alone with Netflix, but there is little that I enjoy more than spending time with people I care about and going through life together. Playing bags during the summer, going to a concert, walking along the lakefront.

But what I enjoy most is eating with people. Going to a new restaurant. Staying home and cooking a meal. Cooking traditional Swedish fare and sharing what it was like growing up in a family that was so proud of our heritage. For me, having the opportunity to expose people to a little bit of my Swedish culture and background is so special.

When Jewel-Osco approached me about being a part of Chi-Town Stories I was flattered. But to be honest, I was a little nervous. What was I going to talk about? What makes me interesting enough to be a part of a commercial featuring Chicago? I struggled with this for a while leading up to my phone calls with the production company in LA. I didn't want to put on a face, or say something just because I thought it was what they wanted to hear. Why not just be me? And me just happens to be a 28-year old guy with a Swedish heritage living in Chicago. Like it. Love it. Hate it. That's who I am.


| Gravlax with Caraway, Coriander, and Mustard-Dill Sauce |

Ingredients:

1 (2-pound) skin-on, sushi-grade salmon fillet, pin bones removed by fishmonger
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
40 grams kosher salt (about 4 tablespoons), plus more for washing salmon
20 grams sugar (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper or black pepper
2 large bunches dill

For the Sauce:
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons roughly chopped dill fronds
5 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sliced pumpernickel bread, for serving

Directions:

  1. Fill a large bowl with cold water and add enough salt to make it taste like the sea. Add salmon and let stand 10 minutes.
  2. In a skillet, toast caraway and coriander seeds over high heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind finely.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together salt, sugar, ground caraway and coriander seeds, and white pepper until thoroughly combined.
  4. Remove salmon from bath and pat dry with paper towels. On a work surface, turn salmon skin side up and sprinkle about half of salt mixture all over, rubbing in with fingers.
  5. Arrange half the dill all over the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold salmon. Set salmon skin side down on bed of dill. Rub remaining salt mixture all over top and sides of salmon, then top with remaining dill. Cover with plastic, then top with a weight (such as a smaller baking dish or plate with cans of beans on top). Refrigerate for 1 day.
  6. Unpack salmon and turn skin-side up. Re-pack with dill, cover with plastic and set weight back on top. Refrigerate until salmon is sufficiently cured, 1 day longer for a lighter cure and 2 days longer for slightly more cure (slightly firmer texture and saltier flavor).
  7. For the Sauce: Before serving, make the sauce. In a blender, mini food processor, or using an immersion blender, combine vinegar with dill, mustard, and sugar and blend until dill is very finely chopped. Add oil and blend until a smooth sauce is formed. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Unpack salmon, scraping off dill, and set on a work surface. Using a very sharp slicing knife, cut gravlax on the bias into thin slices. Arrange on slices of pumpernickel bread and drizzle sauce on top. Serve. Gravlax can be kept refrigerated tightly wrapped in plastic for approximately 5 days after curing.