Uncommon luxuries: the glory of Gravadlax

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These are strange times in which we live, we are wont to think from time to time. What once was is no more, and what is will no doubt soon follow. Why all this fighting? Why can’t we all just get along? (One too many muffins at teatime can do that to a chap; nobody knows why over-eating leads so seamlessly to philosophy but the link is surely undeniable.) Well here’s why all the fighting. Here’s why we’ll never all get along. No matter what you may overhear at Islington dinner parties, some values are carved in rock. Some social mores are inviolable. Some morals are not vulnerable to change. Keeping mustard in the fridge, for example, will never, ever be okay. Ditto cutting a bread roll rather than tearing it. There is, one hopes, a circle in hell reserved for anyone who leaves teaspoon under the tap in the kitchen sink. And although it’s too good for ‘em, they should bring back hanging for anyone who says that smoked salmon should be sliced as thinly as possible. Sadly, so complete is the spiritual dissolution of the modern world that the gangsters who are actually in charge of slicing smoked salmon appear to be the one’s who should be queuing for the gallows. No doubt it’s something to do with ‘delicacy’ or some rubbish about ‘economy’. Even more sadly, it’s all but impossible to find unsliced smoked salmon that you can take home and cut up properly into quarter-inch slices, each tangy mouthful of cured flesh giving that delicious initial resistance and then surrendering its unique flavour. And unless you’ve got your own smoke house or you’ve got some subtle, no doubt Masonic relationship to someone who does, you’ll not be smoking your own, either. Well, until we can get this whole mess sorted out and the salmon-slicers up in front of the beak, here’s something you might like to try (if you haven’t already): Gravadlax. Or, if you like, Gravad Lax. However you spell it, it’ll taste the same. It’s not smoked salmon - that’s true - but the curing process does lend the meat a similar, almost glutinous texture, the delicate balance of salt and sugar in the cure gives the flavour just the right savoury kick, and you can make it at home with your eyes closed so you can then (eyes open) slice it as thick as you like. You’ll need a side of very fresh salmon, some salt, sugar, pepper and – traditionally – some dill (some people use beetroot). To find out how to make this miracle happen, click here.