- 1 whole side of a salmon fillet, skin on
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup black peppercorns, roughly cracked
- 2 cup fresh young spruce, divided tip, minced
- ½ spruce or citrus infused vodka
- ¼ cup black walnuts, toasted
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed
- rustic bread, as needed
- additional spruce tip, as garnish (optional)
Wash and dry the salmon fillets and remove any pin bones using stainless steel needle-nose pliers. Cut off the belly flaps and as much of the tail end as is necessary for the fish to fit in a 9 x 13” glass or stainless steel baking pan. Reserve the salmon trimmings for another use.
To cure: Mix together the sugar, salt and peppercorns. Lay the salmon skin side down in the baking pan. Rub the sugar mixture into the flesh side of salmon. Spread the 1 cup of the minced spruce ontop. Drizzle vodka over everything, being careful not to wash away the curing mix. Quickly flip the salmon so the skin side is on top. Cover the baking pan with plastic wrap. Place an empty glass or stainless steel baking pan on top of the plastic wrap and fill it with canned goods to press down the salmon. Put in the refrigerator.
Every 12 hours, remove the fish from the refrigerator, turn it over, put weight back on the fish, and return it to the refrigerator. Cure the fish for 2 – 3 days. Scrape off most of the spruce and peppercorns with your fingers. Pat the gravlax dry, and store it in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.
Make the pesto: Add the remaining spruce, black walnuts, lemon juice to a blender. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and puree the mixture until a smooth paste is formed. You may not need all the oil.
Make the crostini: Slice and toast the bread as needed. Top each slice with some gravlox, a spoonful of the spruce pesto and a garnish of spruce tips (optional). Serve.
I used Norwegian spruce, but many other conifers are edible too. When foraging for food make sure you know what you are getting. I don’t know of any conifers that would hurt you, but they don’t all taste great. The very new bud-like tips (when they are young and light green) are the sweetest.