Ambassador Else Berit Eikeland shares this traditional Norwegian dish of gravlax with mustard sauce.
Unless there’s a special event or dinner, Ambassador Else Berit Eikeland and her teenage children are the cooks at the embassy of Norway. “Kids need to learn how to cook,” says the ambassador, who arrived in Ottawa in September 2009. Ms. Eikeland, who grew up in a village on the southwest coast, enjoyed the typical Norwegian diet of the time: fish almost every day, with meat on Sundays. “Today in Norway, people eat more spaghetti than potatoes, but I am introducing my kids to traditional Norwegian cuisine,” she says. That means fish and fresh vegetables — especially potatoes, carrots, peas, and cabbage. Visitors to the embassy always enjoy the ambassador’s own gravlax with mustard sauce.
Gravlax with Mustard Sour Cream Sauce
1 kg deboned salmon
1½ tbsp salt
¾ tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground white pepper
1½–2 cups aquavit or cognac
Plenty of fresh dill
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp Dijon-style mustard
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
¼ cup sour cream
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh dillweed
Salt and pepper
The middle portion of a 3-4 kg salmon is best for this dish. Set aside two middle fillets with the skin on. The fish should be frozen for 24 hours before preparation to kill all possible micro-organisms in the meat. Alternatively, deep-freeze the meat for 24 hours after it has been prepared.
1. Pat fillets with paper towel. Mix salt, sugar, and pepper. Rub sides of both fillets with mixture. Place one fillet, flesh side up, on piece of aluminum foil. Place in glass casserole dish.
2. Rinse dill and spin it dry. Chop dill (both stem and leaves). Sprinkle freshly cut dill over one fish fillet, then cover with second fillet, flesh side down.
3. Pour aquavit (or cognac) over fillets. Wrap aluminum foil around fish. Place a one-kg weight on top of fish to compress it. (Soup cans or a wrapped brick work well.) Put package in fridge for three full days, turning twice a day.
4. After three days, scrape off dill. Slice salmon into thin slices. Serve with mustard sour cream sauce. The gravlax may also be served with fresh bread, potato salad, or baked potatoes.
Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, mustard, vinegar, and sour cream until blended. Add lemon juice and dillweed. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes one cup.