How to Make Gravlax

Sliced gravlax

Gravlax is salt cured salmon and yes- you can make it at home. Gravlax needs a few ingredients, minimal prep, and time. I usually prefer raw or cured fish to cooked – I enjoy its smooth texture and clean, vibrant flavor. Most cooked fish dishes do better served immediately (a perfectly poached salmon is an exception). There is no “overcooking” with gravlax.

Before the era of refrigeration it was common to preserve fish and fish eggs by drying, salting, and/or fermenting (see my recipe for Bottarga (salt cured fish roe) Pasta for another example). With gravlax, the salt breaks down and tenderizes the protein in the muscle fibers of the salmon and the weight compacts the flesh.

The basic recipe calls for salt, sugar, and dill. Some will add a few tablespoons of brandy or vodka. The Nourishing Traditions cookbook uses whey (the watery part of milk that separates from the curd). I’ve seen a wide range for the salt to sugar ratio from two and a half parts sugar to one part salt, equal amounts of each, or more salt to sugar. Experiment with additional spices like coriander seeds, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, and lemon zest,. Most gravlax recipes call for a 24 hour curing period, but it can go longer- it will become drier as it cures.

Steps of making gravlax

This post is linked to The Healthy Home Economist | Monday Mania, Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free | Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, A Moderate Life | Hearth and Soul,  GNOWFGLINS | Tuesday Twister, and Kelly the Kitchen Kop | Real Food Wednesday.

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  1. says

    This is one of those things that once I discovered how easy it was to make at home, I’ve never since bought it from the store. Cured salmon is one of my favorite dishes, and it saves a lot of money to make it yourself. Thank you for sharing this recipe with Hearth and Soul.

  2. Carachi says

    Just a note, as it was not mentioned in the post: “Gravlax” is the swedish word for cured salmon. Hence “gravad lax” (the practice of curing salmon) is a traditionally swedish way of preparing the fish.
    Is is traditionally done with suger, salt, pepper and dill, and eaten with boiled potatoes and “gravlaxsås” (a kind of mayo like sauce with lots of sweet mustard, dill and oil but without the eggs).
    Just so you know. 😉

  3. says

    I love to make Gravlax too. I’ve used the same basic recipe with honey substituting for the sugar to make an SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) version. Yum.

    • says

      this is the traditional recipe that I’m working from and these ingredients were used for preserving it. But if you want to make it with just salt, that works as well.


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