When I was in Buenos Aires in December, we stayed at the superb Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires, where, every Sunday, an excellent brunch featuring Argentine specialties along with more familiar fare is served in the historic Mansion restaurant behind the hotel. I was especially inspired by chef Juan Gaffuri’s beet gravlax, which is silky, sweet and beautiful to look at. If you have aquavit on hand, use it instead of the vodka for a more Swedish taste.
2 cups beetroot, grated
¼ cup kosher salt
¼ cup fine granulated sugar
¼ cup vodka
2 pounds (1 kilogram) salmon on the skin
Peel and grate beetroot, keeping pulp and any juice together in a bowl. Stir in kosher salt, sugar and vodka.
Spread out 1/3 of the mixture in a thin layer on a baking tray and place salmon fillet on top, skin side down.
Cover salmon with remaining beetroot preparation and wrap the whole tray tightly with plastic wrap.
Let it cure in the fridge for about 48 hours. Then scrape off beetroot mixture and discard. Wipe off excess salt on salmon with a paper towel.
Starting at the tail end, hold a sharp, flexible-bladed knife at a 20-degree angle and cut the cured salmon flesh into thin slices, taking care not to cut through the skin. The edges of the gravlax will be bright red.
Lift salmon slices off the skin and serve with toast and crème fraîche.