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Salmon in the raw

Photo by Bryant Anderson, Wescom News Service
Whether it’s called gravlax or lox, the end result is cool, tender salmon with a hint of salt and herbs.

In Jewish-American cuisine, lox (Yiddish for salmon) is served on a bagel with cream cheese. In Scandinavian countries, they eat gravlax as an appetizer or on an open-face sandwich with a mustard-dill sauce.

There’s numerous ways to prepare this delicacy.

“We’re curing it,” said chef Devon Morgante as he prepped a fillet of salmon caught in the Klamath River, before adding “not that it was ailing.”

“In a sense,” he continued, “you’re cooking it without cooking it.”

Traditionally, curing salmon was just a way of preserving it, but now gravlax has become a cultural dish, he said.

The name gravlax roughly translates to buried salmon, when  Scandinavian fishermen buried the fish in sand to preserve it.

Gravlax or lox is not something that’s found at every restaurant, but it’s actually fairly simple to make and a different take on salmon, which is culturally and nutritionally important to Del Norte County.

“It does all the work for you,” Morgante said about the curing process.

He smothered the salmon with a mixture of chopped herbs  (mint, dill and basil) and scallions and then coated it with salt, sugar and toasted fennel.

“The salt and sugar pulls the moisture out,” he said, “and replaces it with the flavor from the  herbs.”

Morgante wrapped the salmon in plastic wrap, put it on a pan and weighed it down with a large can to help push out the moisture.

After a few days of curing, he unwrapped the salmon and rinsed off the salt and herbs.

He cut the salmon at an angle into thin strips and draped them on a bagel half-covered with a thick layer of cream cheese.

The lox had a salty taste and was so tender it practically melted into the cream cheese. It was smooth and easily pulled apart.

Lemon slices, capers, mustard-dill sauce would go great with gravlax on a hearty cracker or piece of bread.

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