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Cured not Smoked – Salmon Gravadlax

Until 1994, I thought smoked salmon was one of the best things that could have happened to the humble Salmon. That summer,  however, everything changed

I took a last minute trip to see one of my best University friends in Norway and for the first time had the chance to try the Scandinavian version of preserved salmon, known as Gravadlax  (or Gravalax).  I was converted to their delicious , sweet dill and citrus infused cured salmon dish immediately!  Through trial and error, following traditional Norwegian and more modern recipes, I have stumbled on what, I think, is salmon perfection

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

It takes just 20 minutes to prepare and a few days of patient curing


  • 2 x fat tail end sides of a very fresh salmon with skin on weighing 2.25 lbs / 1 kg
  • 4 tbsp fine sugar (granulated is ideal)
  • 4 tsp of salt
  • 1 large bunch of dill weed finely chopped
  • 4 x slices of lemon or lime finely chopped
Sugar, Salt + the Dill, Lime coat

Sugar, Salt + the Dill, Lime coat


  • Wash and pat dry the salmon
  • Place one side skin side down on a large sheet of saran wrap / cling film
  • Sprinkle 2 tsp of salt down the spine (center) of the fish, then sprinkle 2 tbsp of sugar on top of the salt along the spine
  • Coat the entire flesh of the side with the chopped dill and place the lemon / lime pieces on the dill blanket making sure the lime does not come into direct contact with the fish, as it will mark it and ruin the effect. You want the flavor to imbue not to burn the fish with citric acid!
  • Repeat the salt, sugar, dill and lemon / lime process for the other side
  • Place one side on the other like a big fish sandwich and wrap the sandwich tightly in several layers of the saran / cling film

    The Salmon Sandwich

    The Salmon Sandwich

  • Lay the fish in a large container or on a plate at the bottom of the fridge, adding weight on top of it (I use large tins of tomatoes). The purpose of this is to help squeeze the ingredients into the fish
  • Leave for 3 days turning the fish upside down every morning and evening to evenly distribute the flavors


Three days later! Your Gravadlax is ready to serve.  Using a very sharp knife, slice horizontally across the fish in thin slices from the tail end at a 45 degree angle all the way through but not cutting the skin

Perfect served with a  dark Rye and  Scandinavian Mustard sauce (see my next post for the recipe!)

Filed under: Fish, Starters

About the Author

Posted by

Almost as food obsessed as my Beagle Hound Millie, I am a keen amateur cook and consumer of fine chow with a weakness for the spices of Middle Eastern and North African cuisine and an obsession with Chu Toro, British Cheese and Single Malt Orkney Island Scotch (go figure), I slice at warp speed (scars on the fingers to prove it) and can rustle up everything from Mashed Potato to Maki in the flash of an eye!

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