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How to Make the Perfect Gravlax Salmon at Home: A Step-by-Step Recipe [Video]

Craving something elegant, flavorful, and easy to impress? 

Look no further than the timeless allure of gravlax salmon, a dish that's as impressive as it is delicious, and that will definitely have an effect on your Valentine.

This Nordic cure transforms fresh salmon into a melt-in-your-mouth masterpiece, perfect for appetizers, light meals, or simply satisfying your own adventurous palate.

But what exactly is gravlax? 

Imagine luscious salmon gently cured with a blend of salt, sugar, and aromatic herbs like dill. The process, while surprisingly simple, unlocks a symphony of textures and flavors. The result? Silky-smooth salmon with a delightful depth of taste, ready to be sliced thin and enjoyed on crusty bread, with creamy sauces, or as part of a vibrant salad.

My French Dietitian's gravlax salmon
Our beautiful gravlax salmon we made during the Christmas holidays

Forget fancy equipment or complicated techniques. Here, we'll guide you through the art of gravlax with a simple recipe to inspire your culinary journey. 

Whether you're a seasoned chef or a kitchen newbie, we'll have you master this gravlax salmon recipe in no time!

So ditch the deli counter and embrace the DIY magic of homemade gravlax.  

Ingredients you need to prepare a salmon gravlax:

For 4 persons:

  • About 1kg fresh salmon fillet, skin on

  • 400g of coarse sea salt

  • 600g of white granulated sugar

  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns grains

  • 10 pieces of whole star anise

  • 500ml of orange juice

  • 1 bunch fresh dill

  • Juice of one lemon

  • Zest from one lemon

  • 100ml of Cognac (optional), if you don't have cognac you can use vodka or gin instead.

Instructions to prepare our gravlax salmon recipe:

  1. Use a good quality fresh salmon (refer to FAQ/Questions and answers below the recipe).

  2. Rinse the salmon and pat it dry with paper towels. 

  3. Remove the pin bones of the salmon. You can use your hands but it will be easier with tweezers.

  4. Place the salmon (skin down) over a bed of fresh dill on a deep plate .

  5. In a separate large bowl, combine the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and juniper berries in a bowl. Mix well and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the salmon flesh.

  6. Wrap tightly in cling film and place a weight on top so that the salmon is fully submerged by the liquid. Here we used baking balls, but you could also use a small plate or even a book.

  7. Place in your fridge for 24 hours.

  8. After 24 hours, take the salmon off the fridge, and flip the salmon (skin up).

  9. Repeat step 6: wrap tightly and refrigerate for another 24 hours.

  10. After 24 hours, remove the salmon from the refrigerator and scrape off the spices and herbs. Rince the salmon and plate it.

  11. Slice thinly and enjoy with rye bread, fresh dill, some lemon and pomegranate. You can also serve with your favorite toppings, such as capers, red onion, mustard, or horseradish sauce.

Bon appétit!

You might also like our previous article:

cured salmon with fresh dill


Are Gravlax and Gravadlax the same?

Yes, gravlax and gravadlax are the same thing. Both terms refer to a Scandinavian dish of cured salmon typically made with salt, sugar, and herbs like dill. The differences are mainly in spelling and origin:

-Gravadlax: This is the original Swedish term, with "lax" meaning "salmon" and "gravad" meaning "buried." This refers to the historical method of preserving fish by burying it with salt.

-Gravlax: This is a more anglicized spelling and is commonly used outside of Sweden.

So, regardless of the spelling, they both describe the same delicious cured salmon dish!

What does gravlax taste like?

Gravlax tastes like a cross between salmon sashimi and smoked salmon – but with more spice flavours and minus the smokey flavour.

What kind of salmon should I use for gravlax?

When choosing salmon for your gravlax adventure, prioritize freshness and quality. Look for fish with vibrant color, firm flesh, and minimal bruising. Opt for varieties with good marbling, like king salmon, sockeye salmon, or wild-caught Atlantic salmon. These types of salmon have a higher fat content, which ensures a smooth and flavorful final product.

Beware of frozen fish unless it's specifically labeled as sushi-grade and previously flash-frozen to kill parasites. Pre-cured or smoked salmon are not suitable for gravlax as they have already undergone different preservation processes.

What are some different ways to serve gravlax?

Gravlax's versatility allows for endless creativity!

  • Classic Style: Thinly slice your gravlax and elevate it on crunchy rye bread with a dollop of creamy mustard, tangy capers, and fresh dill. This timeless combination never disappoints.

  • Bagel Bonanza: Embrace the New York deli vibes by layering gravlax on a toasted bagel spread with rich cream cheese. Add red onion, cucumber, and a squeeze of lemon for extra flair.

  • Salad Sensation: Diced gravlax adds a salty and smoky edge to fresh salads. Experiment with mixed greens, baby spinach, or quinoa, incorporating apples, walnuts, and a light vinaigrette.

  • Blini Bliss: Mini blinis topped with gravlax, crème fraîche, and a dollop of caviar create an elegant and festive appetizer.

  • Canapé Creativity: Get creative with small bites! Spread gravlax on cucumber slices, melba toast, or crackers. Top with goat cheese, horseradish cream, or your favorite sauces.

What are some common mistakes people make when making gravlax?

Even the most seasoned chefs can make missteps. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Skimping on quality: Remember, the star of the show is the salmon. Using subpar fish will reflect in the final flavor and texture.

  • Weighing down woes: The curing process requires consistent pressure. Forgetting to weigh down your salmon properly can lead to uneven curing and potential spoilage.

  • Uneven curing: Ensure your curing mixture and spices are evenly distributed over the salmon's surface to achieve a homogeneous flavor.

  • Rushing the cure: Patience is key! Don't cut short the curing time - give your salmon the recommended time for optimal flavor development.

How long can I keep my gravlax once ready?

Homemade gravlax, stored properly, can last 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container to prevent drying and exposure to other flavors. 

Can you freeze cured salmon gravlax?

Yes you can, for about 2 months, but do not freeze gravlax if it was made with previously frozen salmon.

Enjoy your gravlax-making journey!



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