Gravlax was the star of our New Year celebrations. It was meant to be the star of our New Year’s feast on New Year’s Eve but, despite having found a recipe to make it in 4-5 hours (I was right to have been sceptical at the start; don’t bother trying to find it, all good things come to those who wait, meaning leaving it for a long time for the magic to work is best), we ended up having it for our new year’s day meal instead.

There are countless recipes for Gravlax, and equally as many sites recounting its origins, just Google Gravlax and you’ll see. The same as I usually do, I looked through many of these sites and came up with my way of doing it based on the bits I liked the sound of best and keeping it as simple as possible (it is, afterall, meant to be easy, and the salmon should be the star).


To serve about 15 people as a starter/as part of a smörgåsbord.

The ingredients:

A whole salmon (we asked our fishmonger to fillet and pin-bone ours)
Black peppercorns – 100g
Coriander seeds – 100g
Sea salt – 150g
Caster sugar – 150g
Dill* – 200g
Cold water – 3 pints**

*Make use of the stalks here, they will only get thrown away otherwise, which seems a waste of flavour.

**The quick recipe I found said that by placing the salmon and curing ingredients in water, that this would allow the salt and sugar to soak into the fish’s flesh and cure it quicker. I think there must be some other magic to make it work because ours was definitely not ready after eight hours, let alone four. Having started the quick method though we had to stick with it; although it wasn’t quick, the next evening the fish was beautifully soft and delicately flavoured with the dill and coriander seeds, so I will definitely do it this way again.

The recipe:

  • Place all of your ingredients in a receptacle large enough to hold them (or portion the salmon if you don’t have anything big enough).
  • Cover with cling film and leave to cure.*
  • Turn the fish every few hours so that it cures evenly.
  • Slice as finely as you can, and serve with lemon wedges, Finnish mustard and rye bread.

*My mother-in-law is lucky enough to have a walk-in fridge in the winter (it is actually meant to be her conservatory, and she doesn’t think herself that lucky because my father-in-law has filled it with bicycles and related paraphernalia; but it does make an excellent fridge, which is lucky because the actual fridge is always too full), so this is where we put ours for about 30 hours.

Christmas cacti

Christmas cacti in the conservatory/bikeshed/walk-in fridge at my in-laws

Gravlax curing

Our Gravlax curing 

It was funny because my husband commented that it looks like a pond; and then his mum said that as I turned the fish, out of the corner of her eye, it looked like it was a live fish flipping (like you see in David Attenborough documentaries). Whatever it looks like, it was delicious.


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