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How to Prepare Gravlax

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Assemble the Gravlax Ingredients
How to Prepare Gravlax

Gravlax Ingredients

photo ©K. Diehl, licensed to About.com
No smörgåsbord would be complete without one of Scandinavia’s most distinctive dishes, gravlax. Called gravet laks in Norway, gravad lax / laks in Sweden and Denmark, graflax in Iceland, and graavilohi or tuoresuolainen lohi in Finland, the name literally means “Grave-Salmon” and refers to the medieval practice of curing the raw fish by burying it in the sand above the high tide level. This is a preserving method still used for preparing hákarl (“putrified shark”) in Iceland, for rakfisk (“rotten fish”) in Norway, and for surströmming (“soured herring”) in Sweden.

But don’t be put off by the name or by the associations! Cold-cured with sugar, salt, and fresh dill, modern gravlax has a fresh, delicate flavor and is delicious served either as an elegant appetizer or as a topping for smørrebrød, open-faced sandwiches.

For the basic version of gravlax, I use:

  • one 3 1/2- to 4-pound salmon fillet
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tsp. dill seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 2 bunches of fresh dill (don’t skimp on the dill, for this is what gives gravlax its unique flavor).

While gravlax is normally prepared using a salmon fillet with the skin on, it works equally as well to use a skinless fillet if that is what is available at your local market.

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