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!
- ~~ 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
- dill sauce* (see Note on how to prepare dill sauce)
- 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.
- Pat the salmon dry with paper towels.
- Spread about three-quarters of the mixture over the flesh of the salmon, but covering the sides and underneath on the skin as well.
- 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).
- Refrigerate for 42 to 72 hours.
- To serve, brush most of the cure off and pat the top dry.
- With a slicing knife, carve thin slivers of fish off on a 45-degree angle, stopping where the skin is.
- Serve gravadlax with chipped chives, chopped shallots, capers, and dill sauce. It can be eaten with a slice of baguette, soda bread, or bagels.
- After curing, will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.