Sustainable holiday recipes: A Québécois take on trout gravlax, with international influences

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      If you’re looking to make a seafood meal this holiday season, consider this recipe for the Nordic dish of gravlax that incorporates international inspiration.

      It comes from Fairmont Le Château Montebello chef de cuisine Jean-François Osborne in Montebello, Quebec.

      “I am fortunate to live in a country where we do not lack food or clean water,” Osborne says, as part of a sustainable recipe series from Fairmont Hotels. “It is our job as a chef to minimize any loss of food in respect to those who do not have the privilege of having abundant resources. Being a chef is much more than creating simple recipes, it is having a professional but above all human conscience.”

      Osborne draws upon local ingredients for his recipe: he uses fish as well as beer from the Kenauk area of Quebec.

      Yet while he sources his ingredients locally, he also maintains a worldly outlook by integrating various cultural influences for his various elements for this dish: he adds in Sichuan pepper; for his blinis, or Russian-style mini pancakes, he uses buckwheat flour; and he accompanies it all with a beet version of the Spanish and Latin American dish salpicón. 

      Kenauk trout gravlax

      Kenauk trout gravlax

      500 grams brown sugar

      500 grams coarse salt

      1 tablespoon Sichuan pepper

      1 tablespoon dill

      100 millilitre vodka

      Sweet Kenauk beer mustard

      500 millilitres Kenauk beer

      150 millilitres yellow mustard

      Buckwheat blinis

      80 grams buckwheat flour

      1 egg

      8 grams baking powder

      100 millilitres milk

      1 tablespoon olive oil

      to taste salt and pepper

      Fromage frais

      50 millilitres fromage frais

      1 teaspoon cardamom

      Beet salpicón

      4 medium-sized beets

      Beet caramel

      white sugar


      1. Remove the skin from the trout. Place the skin on a baking sheet and dry in the oven at 170°F for eight hours.

      2. Place the trout on a bed of coarse salt, using only a small portion of total coarse salt.

      3. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together except the vodka.

      4. Pour the mixture onto the trout and then pour the vodka. Let marinate in the refrigerator for approximately four hours (adjust depending on the size of the trout). Rinse and dry. Thinly slice the trout.

      5. For the mustard, reduce the beer to 2/3 and allow to cool. Mix the yellow mustard with the beer reduction.

      6. For the blinis, whisk the egg in a bowl. Add strained buckwheat flour and baking powder. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix while slowly adding the milk. Mix well and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

      7. Heat a pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Once the pan is hot, add 2oz of mixture and flip once golden.

      8. Meanwhile, mix the fromage frais with the powdered cardamom. Leave aside or chill ready to serve.

      9. For the beet salpicón, steam the beets for approximately one hour depending on the size. Peel the beets and save the peelings. Cut the beets into brunoise.

      10. To make the caramel, weigh the peelings then place them in a pot and add water until they are covered in liquid. Add 1/3 of the peelings’ weight in sugar. Reduce to a caramel consistency. Strain through a conical strainer.

      11. Plate the trout gravlax and top with a drizzle of sweet beer mustard. Accompany with buckwheat blinis topped with beet salpicon, a tablespoon of fromage frais, and a few drops of beet caramel. Add some trout skin chips.

      Fairmont Le Château Montebello chef de cuisine Jean-François Osborne