Copenhagen’s wonderful gravlaks
FRENCH chef Hugues Le Bourlay brought his Danish gravlaks to Brussels in his briefcase and gave Fish Farmer and Wester Ross Fisheries’ Barbara Gaborova an impromptu tasting in the Scottish pavilion.
‘Let the flavours express themselves,’ he said, as he explained the provenance of his product, marketed under the brand Ogravlaks.
Made from ‘red label’ (Label Rouge) Scottish salmon, and produced in Paris to Le Bourlay’s own recipe, inspired by Danish tradition, the gravlaks are served in the Danish and Swedish embassies, and to the House of Caviar.
They will also be fed to royalty when Denmark’s Princess Alexandra visits the French capital in June.
Le Bourlay, a chef for 25 years, had a Danish grandfather and first went to Denmark in search of his roots. He ended up living there for several years, learning the language and teaching cooking.
He also discovered the secrets of good gravlaks, which evolved from the curing processes of the Vikings, who wrapped fish in cloths with salt and sugar and buried them in the riverbed to extend their shelf life.
‘They found evidence of buried salmon from around 950 to 1050 AD,’ said Le Bourlay. In Copenhagen he sampled a gravlaks that was the best he had tasted and he decided to introduce the product to France. Over the past three years, he has perfected his gravlaks, based on that Copenhagen recipe, and ‘adapted it for industrial scale production’. In Paris he imports 150 tonnes of salmon from Scotland, of which about 20 per cent is processed into gravlaks. ‘It has got better and better,’ he said, but now he is looking for a traditional smoker in Scotland, which is what brought him to the Scottish pavilion.
Above: Hugues Le Bourlay