Gravlax (or Gravadlax)

by Jen on March 28, 2013

Gravlax, or Gravadlax, is a prominent feature in traditional Nordic cuisine. It’s probably one of their most popular “exports” to the world. Here, I will show you how easy it is to make at home. As you can see, I am alive and well right now, which means I didn’t get sick eating “raw” fish that I prepared myself.

Before there were electric refrigerators, the Nordic people (those from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Iceland) – particularly fishermen – preserved their fish with a salt cure then buried them deep in the sand. Grav means grave. Lax means salmon. Hence, the buried salmon!

Through the ages, methods for curing / preserving / fermenting have changed with the advent of technology. With today’s modern conveniences, like the refrigerator, we are able to cure our fish and enjoy it safely at home.

Even though it is not necessary to make your Gravlax with sushi-grade salmon, it is highly recommended to still choose wild over farmed whenever possible. If wild salmon is not easily available, choose organically-farmed over conventionally-farmed. Always buy fish for such purposes from a trusted fishmonger or market vendor – never from the supermarket aisle!

My gravlax has a little bit of booze in it (gin), with a nice herbaceous rub made with chopped fresh dill, chives, coriander leaves, lemon zest, and juniper berries (works well with the gin).

Gravlax is usually eaten with a lemon-mustard-dill sauce of some sorts, with condiments like capers, shallots, chives, or red onion – on top of crackers or thick, crusty bread. In many European and American cities, you will find Gravlax sandwiched between toasted bagels and cream cheese! Whichever way you enjoy your lax, it’s definitely a good source of protein and those oh-so-important omega-3′s for your heart and brain health!


5.0 from 5 reviews
Gravlax (or Gravadlax)
Recipe Type: Fish, Nordic
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • ~~ For the Gravadlax ~~
  • one 700 grams sushi-grade salmon, skin-on and pin-boned
  • 80 grams kosher salt
  • 65 grams granulated sugar
  • a handful of fresh dill, finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 8 to 10 juniper berries, crushed
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons gin or Cognac or vodka
  • ~~ For condiments ~~
  • chopped chives
  • chopped shallots
  • capers
  • dill sauce* (see Note on how to prepare dill sauce)
Instructions
  1. To make the cure for the fish, put the salt, sugar, dill, coriander, chives, crushed juniper berries, lemon zest, and gin (or Cognac or vodka) in a food processor and give it a few pulses until just combined.
  2. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels.
  3. Spread about three-quarters of the mixture over the flesh of the salmon, but covering the sides and underneath on the skin as well.
  4. Tightly wrap in cling film, place on a plate or tray and put a weight on top of the fish. The weight should be just about how much the fish weighs (about 700 grams).
  5. Refrigerate for 42 to 72 hours.
  6. To serve, brush most of the cure off and pat the top dry.
  7. With a slicing knife, carve thin slivers of fish off on a 45-degree angle, stopping where the skin is.
  8. Serve gravadlax with chipped chives, chopped shallots, capers, and dill sauce. It can be eaten with a slice of baguette, soda bread, or bagels.
  9. After curing, will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.
Notes
To make an easy dill sauce, mix together 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, ¼ cup mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon sugar, a pinch of salt, and a tablespoon white wine vinegar, and a handful of chopped fresh dill fronds. Give it a whisk and serve in a bowl.

 

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura (Tutti Dolci) March 28, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Beautiful, Jen! Your plating looks like art :).

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Kiran @ KiranTarun.com March 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Everything is so bright, vibrant and colorful! So cheerful!! And I love gravlax! We have it for snacks, slathered on toasts with some herbed goat cheese. Delish!

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Valerie March 28, 2013 at 4:33 pm

I could live, happily, on salmon (raw, cooked, baked etc…)! This post is taking my lox craving to a whole new level! Maybe I was an Icelandic fisherman in another life. :D

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Patty March 28, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Pretty Jen! I’ve made gravlax and I know it turns out so good-perfect for entertaining when you want that really special something to share with friends!! I love the way you’ve served your gravlax and photographed it-so inspirational my dear ;-) Happy Easter ;-)

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Lisa {AuthenticSuburbanGourmet} March 28, 2013 at 10:00 pm

What pretty photos! Unfortunately I am not a fan of gravlax but I love Salmon cooked. On the other hand, my hubby would flip for this and loves it. Might just have to make him this to surprise him. :-)

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Erin @ Texanerin Baking March 29, 2013 at 12:33 pm

So pretty! :) I didn’t know this was something you can make at home. My husband eats it every day and I have to be honest… I hate it when he does because it smells so bad. At least to someone who doesn’t like it. :)

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The Café Sucré Farine March 29, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I’m not normally a fan of raw fish but you have tempted me ……….. Your photos are amazing!

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Lori Lynn March 29, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Didn’t know grav meant grave, glad to learn something new this morning :)
Your buried-salmon looks gorgeous!
LL

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Jean | Lemons & Anchovies March 29, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Gravlax is a favorite around here but have never tried making it myself. Your pictures are so pretty, Jen.

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Eha March 29, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Well we Estonians are not technically supposed to be Vikings but we definitely are Nordic and gravlax is Mother’s Milk. It probably was one of the first dishes I learned to make as a child already and something I could happily eat every day. Have never used coriander, only heaps of dill and definitely vodka [don't think we even knew gin :) !] Allspice also is new – must try next time around! To go with my favourite mustard sauce!!! Beautifully served . . . .

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Tina Ong March 30, 2013 at 12:54 am

We love salmon in all ways, but I have yet to try making my own “smoked” salmon. My kids could eat that entire slab by themselves. I love your presentation and plating, and how evenly you sliced your fish.

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Michelle Ritchie | Delicious Karma March 30, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Oh my gosh…this is spectacular looking! Your photography is seriously stunning!!! And the recipe divine. I will absolutely have to make this.

I couldn’t agree more on how important it is to know where your salmon comes from! I always buy wild. With one exception. We do buy all our salmon from our food e-commerce site: http://deliciouskarma.com. Not just because we want to support our own business (ha, ha), but also because our fish vendor has the most amazing sushi-grade salmon I’ve personally ever eaten. While it is farmed, it comes from a very unique, certified, eco-sustainable operation; the fish live in swift, cold currents of a snow-fed alpine canal in New Zealand. Super clean water and very well exercised fish! :-)

Thank you so much for a great recipe; I’m always looking for more ways to prepare salmon!

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Tessa March 30, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Great looking salmon Jen!

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Karen (Back Road Journal) March 31, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Absolutely stunning photos of one of my husband’s favorite appetizers. I don’t know why I have never prepared it…thanks for the lovely post.

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Jen April 1, 2013 at 1:50 am

Hi, Karen!
Until this year, I, too, have not tried preparing my own gravlax. I’ve been consumed by fear of “getting sick” by my own doing – plus I was pregnant 3x in the last 6 years – so I’ve held off. Now, I’m happy to report that with careful handling and quality ingredients, making gravlax is a “piece of cake”! I hope you can try it soon and let me know how it goes…
-Jen

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Suzanne April 1, 2013 at 11:46 am

Wow, Jen this dish looks wonderful. I am so impressed that you did this yourself and didn’t kill over too :) I’m not a big on raw fish but thinly cut and with all those yummy herbs and spices I’m sure I could enjoy this. Great recipe and post!

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a farmer in the dell April 1, 2013 at 5:44 pm

not only is this STUNNING but I am drooling over here!

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Lora @cakeduchess April 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Oh, yes. I have a craving for gravlax now. This would’ve been perfect for Easter breakfast yesterday…I can make it happen this weekend instead. Love!

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Roxana | Roxana's Home Baking April 2, 2013 at 7:12 am

I think I’d get over my phobia of eating raw fish if someone makes it as beautiful as you did. Wow! Now I really want to try it!

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Raymund April 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Thanks to modern cuisine we can eat raw food safely, specially salmon. I love them

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Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts April 2, 2013 at 9:01 pm

We are not salmon eaters here, though I wish we did like it. This looks stunning, I always love coming for your pictures!

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suzanne Perazzini April 3, 2013 at 12:05 am

This is such a delightful dish. I love salmon so much and the rawer the better. Your photos are gorgeous.

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sippitysup April 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm

I have done it myself, if anyone doubts it can be done at home have them contact me. I’ll back you up. GREG

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Nami | Just One Cookbook April 8, 2013 at 2:32 am

I’m really, REALLY intrigued to try this! We love salmon, I mean really love salmon and I know I’ll probably need to make double portion so we can eat without fighting to eat the last piece. Your photos are so beautiful, breath taking!!

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Lynne July 4, 2013 at 11:26 am

I wish there was a place in St. Louis to get fish, that wasn’t a grocery store! No gravlax for me…..

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