I was inspired to experiment with this after chatting with Giovanni, of Giovanni’s Deli World and tasting his ‘work in progress’ tuna gravadlax. I found it simply mind blowing.
I had learned all the theory about salmon gravadlax at cooking school many years ago. One of the things that stood out about it at the time is that it is supposed to become transluscent, and when sliced very thinly, you should be able to read a newspaper through it.
So I asked Giovanni what he did (roughly) and attempted to emulate his dish. This is pretty touchy-feely and not 100% accurate and this recipe is more for inspiration.
I took about 500gms of very fresh yellowfin tuna. The thinnish loin end pieces. Thicker loin would work even better.
I lay the tuna flat in a glass dish and sprinkled over about 1/4 of a cup of coarse sea salt and about 1/4 of a cup of brown sugar. I crushed about 8 juniper berries in the pestle and mortar and sprinkled this on. I then chopped a handful of fresh dill fairly finely and spread this over everything. I covered the fish in cling film and placed a few bags of beans on top so as to create a weight. I then wrapped the whole thing in cling film again and put it in the fridge.
After a 24 hours I unwrapped everything and drained off the excess liquid. I had also googled ‘tuna gravadlax’ in the interim to learn more and realised that I was pretty on track with the ratios I had used, which is a fairly standard brining recipe (except for the addition of the juniper berries). I also discovered that tuna releases a lot of liquid, especially when being weighed down and this should be drained off.
I then covered and wrapped it up for another roughly 24 hours.
When I tasted the first piece, the juniper and fresh dill was exquisite and intense and made me instantly want to pour a gin & tonic.
The fish had indeed turned very translucent, and if I had had a sharp enough knife, I would definitely have been able to cut a thin enough slice to read a newspaper through.
I nibbled on this over the course of the following few days and discovered it went really well with a spritz of fresh lemon and cream cheese on a lightly toasted slice of rye bread. Its intense and rich and would make a perfect ingredient to put on top of a canape.
A little bit luxurious, quite christmassy. I am sure my Scottish grandmother would have been very proud.