Devoted Husband is a passionate fisherman, and a rather successful one too, and he really contributes to keep our food costs down during the summers spent in our summer-house. Besides all the pikes, which nobody but ourselves and the French seem to appreciate, here is one of his more exclusive catches, a lavaret (European whitefish).
When I recently visited one of Stockholm’s better seafood stores I noticed that they sold lavarets at the price of 30 € / kg. This one weighed 2.2 kg, so maybe fish monger may be a lucrative future business.
The lavaret is a member of the salmon family but with a much lighter, almost white-pinkish flesh, than its cousin. It can be eaten smoked, freshly sugar and salt-cured, baked, fried, poached, or grilled. Its roe is almost as prized a delicacy as that of vendance.
Caught wild in lakes or sea the lavaret is more sensitive to parasites than the salmon though, so if you think of eating it raw you’ve to let it stay in the freezer for 5 days before preparing it.
This one landed in the freezer before she (yes it was a she!), or it, was cured and served as a starter with toasted bread crumbs and a dill and mustard sauce. Cured in this case means raw fish that has been preserved with sugar and salt.
This recipe and method is the same I use preparing sugar and salt-cured salmon (gravlax or gravad lax), the crown jewel on the Swedish smorgasbord.
Sugar and salt-cured lavaret (gravad sik)
- 2 large filets of lavaret, about 1 kg
- 50 ml salt
- 100 ml sugar
- 1-2 tbsp coarsely crushed white pepper corn
- 1 bunch chopped dill
So far the basic recipe. You can either stop here and go straight to “Method” or continue and give it a personal twist by adding your own favorite flavours that can be anything from false/pink pepper, zest and juice from lime, lemon or orange, fennel seeds and juniper berries to whiskey, gin, calvados or vodka. Only your imagination sets the limit! Here are my extra all!
- 1 tbsp coarsely crushed pink pepper
- 1 tbsp crushed juniper berries
- 50 ml lingonberries (save some for serving)
- 3 tbsp whisky or other alcohol (gin goes very well with both the juniper and lingonberries, but whisky was all that was available at the time)
For serving: toasted bread crumbs of dark rye bread, mixed sallad or ruccola and lingonberries.
- Start by placing the two filets skin side down on a cutting board. Feel the row of pin bones with your finger and remove them with a pair of fish tweezer.
- Combine sugar and salt until evenly mixed and sprinkle a thick layer of the mix onto the filets.
- Sprinkle peppercorns, juniper berries and dill and spoon the liquor over the filets.
- Finally add the lingonberries.
- Place the filets one on top of the other, thick part against thin part, with the spices in between.
- Wrap tightly in cling film and put the package in a sealed plastic bag.
- Place in a deep dish large enough to allow the filets to lay flat.
- Let rest in the refrigerator for 48 hours, Flip the package over a couple of times during curing.
- Remove plastic wrapping and the accumulated juices.
- Carefully scrape off peppercorns, dill and lingonberries with a knife and wipe the surface clean, not too neatly though (don’t rinse in water).
- Cut the lavaret flesh into thin slices.
- Arrange 2-3 slices on a bed of mixed sallad. Sprinkle toasted bread crumbs along with some lingonberries and spoon the mustard sauce (gravlax sås) on top. Garnish with a slice of lemon.
- 1,5 tbsp sweet mustard
- 1,5 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp red (or white) vinegar (little at a time while tasting)
- juice of half a lemon (little at a time while tasting)
- 200 ml rapeseed oil
- A bunch of chopped dill
Mix all ingredients except oil and dill. Whisk in the oil, little at a time to start with and finally add the dill. If the sauce is too thick dilute with a little water.