The real reason we wanted to make gravlax actually goes back to New Year's Eve a few years ago.
Picture it: Dec. 31, 2011. Rhinebeck, N.Y. We had driven up to ring in the new year with our friends Ingela and Anders -- and half a dozen other folks -- at Ingela's parents' house in the beautiful upstate town of Rhinebeck.
As you might not be surprised to learn, given their names, both Ingela and Anders hail from Swedish stock. And they like to celebrate New Year's with a full-on traditional smörgåsbord. That means herring, boiled potatoes and pickled vegetables. It means sharp cheeses and sausages. It means made-from-scratch meatballs in a warm, creamy gravy.
And it means gravlax. (It also means many, many shots of akvavit accompanied by rounds of traditional Swedish songs. Of course we didn't know any of the words, but the akvavit made us not seem to mind.)
The gravlax was a highlight, the perfect balance of salty and sweet, shot through with that great, bracing dill flavor and served with a tangy mustard sauce.
It was an epic night. Here's a photo of us vamping with Ingela at some point in the evening:
Anyway, when we had our disappointing gravlax experience last week, we knew just who to call to set us straight with a traditional Sweish recipe for gravlax.
We set up a phone date with Ingela's mom, Paula.