Bill Granger recipe: Open gravlax sandwich with pickled cucumber and dill-mustard dressing

Serves 8-10
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Years ago, a Swedish friend took me to Stockholm's inspirational indoor central market, Östermalms Saluhall, where we ate the most delicious gravlax on rye bread – one of life's best lunches.

My recipe here doesn't vary much from what I tasted that day. Yes, you could mix things up with a grating of orange zest or a couple of tablespoons of vodka, but why mess with something that's already perfect?

For the gravlax

3 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp white peppercorns
2 tsp black peppercorns
3 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
800g side of salmon, with skin
Large bunch dill, roughly chopped

For the cucumber

6 tbsp white-wine vinegar
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 star anise
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 cucumber, finely sliced on a mandolin
1 small red onion, finely sliced on a mandolin

For the dressing

1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp white-wine vinegar
125ml light-flavoured oil
2 tbsp chopped dill

To serve

Pumpernickel bread

Start with the gravlax a couple of days in advance. Dry-toast the coriander and peppercorns in a pan over a medium heat until fragrant. Grind to a powder with a pestle and mortar. Stir in the salt and sugar. Put the salmon skin-side up in a wide, shallow dish.

Scatter evenly with a third of the spice mix. Press a third of the chopped dill on to the skin. Turn the fish over and scatter with the rest of the spice mix, then the rest of the dill. Cover tightly with cling film and weigh down with a baking tray and a couple of heavy tins. Put in the fridge for 2 to 3 days, turning every 12 hours or so.

Unwrap the fish and brush off the dill. Place the fillet, skin-side down, on a chopping board and, with a long sharp knife, carefully carve very thin, diagonal slivers of pink flesh off the salmon.

For the pickles, put the vinegar and sugar in a small pan with the anise and mustard seeds, and heat gently till the sugar dissolves. Cook for 1 minute, and set aside to cool slightly. Mix the red onion and cucumber in a bowl. Pour on the spiced vinegar. Leave to cool.

For the dressing, whisk the mustard, sugar, salt and vinegar until the sugar has dissolved, then whisk in the oil in a thin stream. Stir in the dill.

To serve, pile slices of salmon on top of slices of pumpernickel bread, top with the cucumber and a spoonful of the dressing.