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How to Prepare Gravlax


The word gravlax comes from the Scandinavian word grav, which literally means “grave” or “to dig” (in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch and Estonian), and lax (or laks), which means “salmon”, thus gravlax means “buried salmon”.

So why exactly would I want to eat this?

Well no other reason than it is meant to be really nice. Its really not as alarming as it sounds. Traditionally the Salmon would be buried under the sand at high-tide level and would in turn be cured. However we are going to cure the fish with salt and serve it on crisp bread, or Rye bread if you so choose. Not as adventurous but definitely more middle-class. 

Now salmon is rather expensive so a cheaper oily fish would do as a substitute. Something like mackerel or herring would do nicely


  • one 3lb  to 4lb salmon fillet
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tsp. dill seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 2 bunches of fresh dill (use generously, as this is the main flavouring).

Now it is important to stress that unless you can be sure that your fish is really fresh, as in “sushi-grade” fresh then frozen salmon should be used.

This is because of micro-organisms which could make you ill if present.

First prepare your fillets, or buy pre-prepared

Combine the sugar and salt, then cover both sides of each fillet half with the mixture

Wash and chop the bunches of dill. Don’t throw any dill away! Sprinkle with dill seeds and ground pepper on the flesh side of each fillet.

Next, place one fillet half, flesh side up, in a dish. Make sure dish is a cosy fit. Place the chopped dill on top of this fillet, then cover with the second half, flesh side down. It should look like an ominous pink sandwich.

Cover the dish lightly with cling-film and leave at room temperature for no more than 6 hours, or until the sugar-salt mixture has melted into the fillet.

Now for the next step your going to have to find some kind of weight to put the required pressure on your little Gravlax. Some heavy stones will do the trick. Im thinking of using a brick, but only so my house-mates wonder why on god’s earth a brick has happened to materialise in our fridge. This is were the traditional sand-burial came into play.

Any how use a flat surface to spread the weight (Maybe a small chopping board or smaller glass dish) and place surface and brick on top of salmon. Refrigerate for at least two days. Turn salmon over every 12 hours.

After two days remove the gravlax from the refrigerator. Scrape off most of the dill and seasonings; pat dry with paper towels

If you are still unsure about micro-organisms then the Gravlax may be frozen at this point and then thawed. Then continue as normal. If you want to give those little dudes a chance or believe your cards have already been dealt pray continue good sirs

Using a sharp knife, cut the cured gravlax into paper-thin slices, pulling each slice away from the skin.

Layer the gravlax slices on crispbread or rye bread. Finally masticate thoroughly and hopefully your dish will taste good enough to swallow.
Gravlax is often served with a dill and mustard sauce so give that a go too…

  • 6 Tbsp. sweet honey mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp. plain or white wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill

Mix together the mustards, sugar, salt, and vinegar. Slowly whisk in 2/3 cup canola oil until well incorporated into a smooth sauce. Stir in chopped dill. Chill until serving. Will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

I really hope you enjoyed this recipe. I know I cant wait to give it a go. Let me know how you get on. I’ll let you know how I get on tomorrow.

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