This fantastic appetizer is flavored with a hint of star anise, fennel and dill.
To make the rub (or curing mixture) for the gravlax, combine the sugar and salt in a mixing bowl.
Heat a fry pan to medium-high heat and toast the star anise and fennel seeds. Set aside to cool. Once cool, grind the star anise, fennel and peppercorns. Add the ground spices to the salt and sugar mix. Chop the dill and mix everything together.
Next, remove any pinbones from the salmon, along with the thin part of the belly and any excess fat.
Using a casserole dish that is large enough for the salmon to lie flat, sprinkle a layer of the curing mixture to lightly coat the bottom of the dish. Lay the fish skin side down and sprinkle a generous amount of the curing mixture onto the top side of the salmon. Depending on the size of your fish, you may not need to use all of the curing mixture. Just be sure you have an even layer on the top side of the fish.
Next, lay a piece of plastic wrap over the fish, followed by a smaller casserole dish to rest over the plastic wrap. Add a weight to the dish (such as a few heavy cans). Allow the salmon to cure for approximately two days in the refrigerator. Turn the salmon over once each day to ensure that it is being evenly cured. After about 48 hours, brush off any remaining curing mixture and keep the salmon wrapped in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
To make the crème fraîche, pour boiling water into an earthenware crock, a heavy glass jar or measuring cup. Allow the container to heat for a minute, then pour out the water. Add the heavy cream, buttermilk and lemon juice. Stir well and cover with plastic wrap. Store at room temperature for two days or until the mixture reaches the consistency of thick cream. It will thicken even further once refrigerated.
If stored properly, crème fraîche will last up to a week in the refrigerator.
To serve the gravlax, be sure to use a sharp slicing knife or a fish slicer. Starting at the tail, angle your knife and try to cut the pieces as thinly as possible, making sure not to cut through the skin.
Gently toss the greens with a tiny bit of olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place a few pieces of the salmon onto a plate and then top with a small bunch of the greens. Garnish the plate with a dollop of crème fraîche, a tiny bit of salmon roe or tobiko and a few small sprigs of fresh dill. Serve.
Gravlax can be served with toasted bread or crackers, it can be served with a salad. Basically, any way you would serve a smoked salmon appetizer.
Fresh spring salmon will work just as well. In fact, you can even use fresh tuna for this dish!