Gravlax (Cured Salmon) is an exquisite and fragrant method for reacquainting yourself with salmon, essentially fish that has been cured. This makes it a superb choice for elevating a salad, pairing it with rye bread, or even savouring on its own as a sophisticated appetizer.
Gravlax (Cured Salmon) is a Scandinavian fisherman’s way of making fatty fish since the Middle Ages. They hid the fish in sand on the beach and let it marinate/ferment for a few days. Nowadays, fermentation is omitted, and the fish can be cured from 12 to a few days.
The Dry Marinade
This dish is a plan-ahead one because it takes about 24 hours to marinate. I usually do it in 48 hours, changing the side of the fish midway. The longer it marinates, the firmer the meat will become and saltier. It’s alright to stop the marinating after 12 hours; you’ll get a softer-tasting and more malleable version. Everyone adjusts to their preferences, so on this point, you are the chef. Although to start with, I would recommend the 48 hours, as I do, and from there, you can adjust it to your liking.
Choosing the Right Salmon
The most crucial part of Gravlax (Cured Salmon) is to choose a Sashimi-grade piece of Salmon! This is the type the sushi restaurants would use to eat raw. Once you get your beautiful scaled filet, with or without the skin, you go straight home and manipulate it with clean hands. The rest is impossible to mess up; mix the four ingredients in a hermetic plastic bag, put weight on it in the fridge and voila!
Ratio of Salt-Sugar
The ratio of Salt-Sugar per gram of fish is another variable you can play with. I like to make sure the fish is super well-covered; I like it when the texture of the fish changes to firmer, darker and more aromatic. The importance here is to make sure you cover all sides of the filet. It’s also security to add more to prevent bits from turning bad if not exposed.
Gravlax is a simple dry marinade of equal parts salt and sugar with extra aromatics like dill, black pepper, spruce twigs, etc. This way, the fish stays suitable for a few days and is preserved perfectly until consumption. There are many recipes; some add gin, vodka, lemon zest, beet, etc.
An Irresistible Bite
As a teen, I did not eat any fish or seafood; Gravlax made me fall for salmon, especially with that sweet mustard dill sauce… It’s a bit like cucumbers vs. giant dill pickles; everyone loves a giant pickle, but the cucumber is always a bit less appealing, let’s say… both being the same ingredient but treated differently. It’s the same with this Gravlax (Cured Salmon); if your kids resist typically cooked salmon, present them with this cured version, and they might switch ideas!
How long can you keep the gravlax?
If marinated for 48 hours, as my recipe recommends, you can have it in the fridge for 4-5 days. If you aimed at 24 hours, maybe 3-4 days.
Is it better to use fresh or dry dill?
I suggest dry dill for the marinate if you like it super aromatic.
Can I freeze gravlax?
Yes, although not ultimate, you can freeze it for 2-3 months.
Should I keep the skin while marinating?
Yes, I keep mine; it’s up to you.
Other Fancy Appetizers
Gravlax (Cured Salmon)
- 400 g Salmon Filet (Sashimi-grade)
- 300 g salt
- 300 g sugar
- 4 tbsp dried dill
- black pepper
Sweet Mustard and Dill Sauce
- 3 tbsp dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp maple syrup ( or honey)
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (or white wine vinegar)
- 1 tbsp dill (dry or fresh)
- Wash your salmon and check if there are bones left. Pat dry with a paper towel.
- Add the salt, sugar, dill, and pepper to a big hermetic plastic bag and mix.
- Add the salmon to the plastic bag, skin side down, then install in a deep enough flat recipient (like a plate of Pyrex recipient).
- Add another plate on top of the salmon and some extra weight (pickle jar or else) while it's in the fridge.
- Leave in the fridge for 48 hours and switch sides after the first 24 hours.
- When ready, take the salmon out of the marinade, rinse it quickly, then pat dry with a paper towel.
- Add the salmon, skin down, on a cutting board, and with a sharp knife, take the skin off.
- Cut into small, thin slices.
The Sweet Mustard Sauce
- Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl.