The tradition of curing salmon is an art form in the Baltic. This particular recipe is simple and easy to do at home. Given the price of gravlax, it can save you enough money to buy an extra bottle of Champagne to celebrate this holiday season with family and friends!

CHEF KELLY’S AQUAVIT-CURED SALMON WITH RED PEPPERCORNS

SERVES 2 TO 4

salmonINGREDIENTS

½ cup sea salt
1 teaspoon crushed red peppercorns
½ cup brown sugar
1 bunch dill, finely chopped
1 pound salmon fillet, boned and trimmed
2 tablespoons aquavit

DIRECTIONS:

Mix together the salt, peppercorns, sugar and dill. Sprinkle half of the mixture on a piece of plastic wrap three times the size of the salmon. Sprinkle the salmon with aquavit.

Place the salmon, skin side down, on the curing mixture. Then cover the fish with the rest of the curing mixture. Wrap the fish tightly in the plastic wrap and place it on a plate. Cover with another plate, weighed down with 2 to 3 cans or bottles. Set the plate in the refrigerator. Turn the fish every 12 hours, draining off any brine that forms.

Depending on the thickness of the fish, it will be ready in 24 to 48 hours, although you can let it cure for up to 3 to 4 days. Unwrap the fish when you are ready to serve it and gently rinse off the cure.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:

To make your dish even more festive, serve with pumpernickel bread cut into holiday shapes using cookie cutters (snowflakes, gingerbread men, candy canes, etc.). You may also serve with sweet mustard on the side.

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