Indoor Winter Herb Garden: Dill
It is cold enough outside now to be uninviting for garden chores, if not winter outdoor adventures; we took a glorious snowy walk on the Saturday before Christmas and had our first ski day on Sunday!
In anticipation of holiday cooking, I got our dill going in the AeroGarden just before Thanksgiving week, and this seems to have been the perfect amount of time to grow the quantity we will need to make our gravlox and dill potatoes for the Yul Bord.
Once they were large enough, I transplanted the dill seedlings to a 16 x 3 planter that fits perfectly in the window sill. The stems have thrown themselves against the screen to get the afternoon light and they also seem to like the coolness near the glass. I am pleased to not need to purchase dill this year from the produce section in its plastic packaging. It feels like a little win as a gardener!
We moved into our neighborhood this past July and our children made fast friends with the neighbors. It was through a casual conversation with the childrens' father that I learned about a local who makes his living fishing in Alaska in the summers; through this connection, we could order a large quantity of wild-caught sockeye salmon. We had just recently purchased an upright energy efficient freezer and I already had made plans to fill it with beef, pork and chicken from a local regenerative rancher, but to add wild-caught salmon to the mix? Dream come true as far as I am concerned.
We love salmon, but this salmon is so incredibly rich in flavor, I cannot really compare it to other salmon I have eaten. Unlike Atlantic salmon, it is not fatty; unlike other sockeye salmon I have tried to cook, it doesn't easily dry out. The only thing this salmon begs for us to do it not overcook it and savor every bite. For this holiday, I took two of the larger fillets to make our Yul Bord favorite, gravlox. This was our second time making gravlox with this fish, but the first time with our homegrown dill. Yet again, it did not disappoint!
2021 Yul Bord: Crackers, cheeses and cured meats (not pictured here as the four-year-old neighbor twins decimated the cured meets in a shockingly short amount of time ;-), gravlox, capers, lemons, sil (pickled herring), picked beets, and salad.
Not pictured: Swedish meatballs, roasted potatoes, dilly sour cream, gravy, lingonberry jam, and horseradish cranberry sauce.
Notice the amaryllis bringing forth so much color! This was the one with the broken stem which has made a beautiful cut flower all this week and looks like it will leave at least two more blooms for another week.
We had our neighbors over for this year's Yul Bord as the kids spend so much time together we are essentially quaran-teaming at this point. Next year we hope to be able to invite more friends and neighbors after these strange Covid times when to care for one another means to keep our distance.; this is not really conducive to building community in a new place, but we will do our part. In the meantime, I am happy to share these recipes with you, the broader community of lovers of homegrown dill and well-prepared salmon!
- Curing Mixture (for each pound of salmon mix together)
- Sugar, 2 TBSP
- Kosher Salt, 2 TBSP
- Fresh Ground Pepper, 2 tsp
- Dill ( approximately one handful for each pound)
- Weigh your salmon and make your curing mixture based on your total weight. Mix the salt, sugar, and pepper together thoroughly.
- These two fillets weighed around four pounds, so this called for 8 TBSP of both salt and sugar, and 8 tsp of ground pepper.
- I usually just prepare one fillet at a time but gravlox doubles as a delicious Christmas breakfast--bagels with gravlox--so I made two fillets this year so as to not have to make breakfast for the rest of the holiday week.
- Remove any pin-bones with your kitchen needle-nosed pliers. (Is this a common kitchen tool? I have permanently relocated these from the tool box to the kitchen!)
- On a cookie sheet spread out cling wrap beyond the edges of the pan and place the fillet(s) on top.
- Add the curing mixture to evenly cover the surface of the salmon.
- Add your dill on top of the curing mixture, as much or as little as you like; I had to reserve some dill for the potatoes, so this was a bit less than I prefer.
- Wrap the fillets tightly in the cling wrap, using several layers to maintain the curing mixture and dill's contact with the fish.
- Place the tightly wrapped fillets back on the baking sheet to catch the juices that will be coming out through the curing process.
- Place into the refrigerator for a minimum of two days; I find three to be the sweet spot. I often add some containers of leftovers on top of the fillet to press out some of the liquid and press in the flavors.
- Note: we left the second filet curing for a week-and-a-half. The result? Saltier and dillier but with an even more buttery texture. Truly delicious!
- Flip the fillet once per day until you feel it is ready. At this point (two or three days later) unwrap the fish and rinse it off under cold water.
- Lay it out on your cutting board and with a sharp knife, cut toward the tail at an angle resulting in lovely beveled slices.
- Eat it as you cut it for a salty pick me up!
- Use as a topping for crackers topped with fresh dill sprigs!
- Top a savory bagel with cream cheese, capers, purple onion, gravlox, and tomato!
- Top a toasted slice of sourdough or rye bread with gravlox, cucumber, radish, and tomato, and a dill and mustard sauce!