Gravad Lax

January 4, 2017
Family Verdict:


about 1kg salmon in 2 pieces

1 tbsp peppercorns (black or white, depending on preference)

70g caster sugar

50g coarse sea salt

85g dill

Trim any thin bits from the sides and tail end of the fillets to make it into 2 evenish rectangles – this may seem a waste, but thinner bits will overcure and be inedible, so it’s better to eat them now, or freeze them for a later date 

If you want to be super safe, freeze the salmon for 24 hours, then defrost before starting the curing process. This will kill any parasites present.

Crush the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar, then mix with the sugar and salt. Roughly chop the dill.

Lay out a double thickness of cling filmover twice as long as the fillet. Place this centrally into a baking try or similar which is long enough to take the fish. You will ford the ends over to wrap the fish later.

Put one of the fillets, skin-side down on the cling film and put half the dill on top, followed by all the salt and sugar mix. Finish with the remaining dill, then put the other piece of fillet on top, skin-side up to make a sandwich. Bring the ends of the cling film up to cover the fish, and fold the sides over to coccoon it. You may want to wrap extra film around this parcel to seal it and keep the brine which will appear in contact with the fish

Put a small board or lid on the dish, weight it down with something heavy, and chill for 48 hours, turning the fillet over every 12 hours or so.

After 48 hours, remove the cling film and separate the fillets. Scrape the cure from the fish. I usually rinse the fish under running water and pat it dry to get rid of residual brine. Leave to stand for about 30 minutes before slicing any off to taste.

I usually leave the fish on the skin then slice it off as needed. wrapping in cling film and keeping in the fridge in between times. Cut thicker slices than you would with smoked salmon, to really appreciate the texture and mellow flavour.


Well we have just has Christmas and as we all know that is a time for excess. One thing I really like is smoked salmon - the Offspring are not great Fish Fans, but around Christmas they become the epicurean minority and so I can indulge my liking. But I like quantity too. I like to be able to pile it high on blinis with sour cream, eat oily slices with my hands and generally pig out on the stuff. And that gets expensive.

Now I have in the past tried all sorts of curing and smoking, mainly of pork and beef with great results it must be said. And last year someone very kindly gave me a hot smoker which I have used to hot smoke mackerel and salmon. But hot smoked salmon is, as Any Fool Know, not smoked salmon as it is recognised in this country. That is salmon that is cured in the cold smoke of oak chippings after salting. Now although I know you can build your onw cold smoker, it is pretty involved and you need to be fairly dedicated to using it having invested all that time building it. I am not. So, the next best thing is to cure but not smoke your salmon - in otherwords to make Gravad Lax (literally "Buried Salmon").

Gravad Lax is the peculiar, dill scented cousin of Smoked Salmon but over the past few years as I have made it, I have come to prefer it to the thing I was trying to replace. As with everything that smacks of process and complexity, a lot of people would never dream of trying to make this. but PLEASE do. It is actually pretty simple and the results are fantasic in both flavour and quantity at a price which is unbeatable. All you need to be able to do is anticipate when you might want to eat it as you have to start 3 days before - but the effort involved is so small as to be trivial.

I usually save making this for high days and holidays, because I like to use a whole salmon in the process. At christmas fresh salmon usually halves in price, and hat is when to pounce on it. Buy it and freeze it - you can make perfectly good Gravad Lax from the defrosted fish, in fact some people recommend freezing it before curing it as a safety measure. If you buy a whole fish, get your fishmonger to debone it and produce you 2 lovely sides of salmon. Or do it yourself, so as to learn and appreciate how skillful your fishmonger is. When you get it home, you want to trim it so that as far as possible the fish tranches are of approximately uniform thickness, which helps with the evenness of the curing. Save the trimmings in the freezer to make a fish pasta, fish pie or fishcakes. Starting with a 2kg fish you will end up with around 1kg of fish, in two pieces at a guess.This recipe is takne from an excellent article by Felicity Cloake in the Guardian although I only use the curing part, preferring a different take on accompaniments. Its worth a read

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