After making gravlax, the Scandinavian salt-cured salmon, the traditional way for years, we decided to experiment. This became our favorite flavor combination. The brown sugar and bourbon complement the salmon, which has a natural sweetness as well. Great served with horseradish crème fraîche and thin slices of red onion and Granny Smith or other crisp apple.
Bourbon and Brown Sugar Gravlax
Arrows Restaurant, Ogunquit
2 salmon fillets cut from the tail end, skin on but scaled, about 1 pound each and 8 inches long
¼ cup bourbon
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup kosher salt
3 Tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, halved, cored and thinly sliced
Remove any small pin bones from the salmon fillets. Put the fillets skin side down on a rimmed cookie sheet or in a large, shallow, nonreactive dish. Pour the bourbon over the fillets. Spread the sugar, then the salt, and then the pepper evenly over the meat side of each fillet. Arrange the apple slices evenly over just 1 fillet.
Take the fillet that is not covered with apples and invert it over the other one. Place another cookie sheet or dish on top of the fish and place a weight of at least 2 pounds, such as a brick or several cans, on top.
Refrigerate the entire setup for 3 days, draining off and discarding the liquid once a day.
On the fourth day the salmon will feel very firm to the touch. With a sharp slicing knife, scrape the apples and pepper off the salmon. Then, starting with the tail ends, slice the gravlax on a bias as thin as possible. Gravlax can be refrigerated for 3-4 days after curing. Wrap the fillets in parchment paper, then in plastic wrap.
Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit is run by its two chef-owners, Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier.