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Gravlax

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Gravlax or gravad lax (Swedish), gravad laks (Danish), gravlaks (Norwegian, Danish), graavilohi (Finnish), graflax (Icelandic) is a Scandinavian dish consisting of raw salmon, cured in salt, sugar, and dill.

Gravlax is usually served as an appetizer, sliced thinly and accompanied by hovmästarsås (also known as gravlaxsås), a dill and mustard sauce, either on bread of some kind, or with boiled potatoes.

The word gravlax comes from the Scandinavian word grav, which means literally "grave" or "hole in the ground" (in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Estonian), and lax (or laks), which means "salmon", thus gravlax is "salmon dug into the ground". During the Middle Ages, gravlax was made by fishermen, who salted the salmon and lightly fermented it by burying it in the sand above the high-tide line.

Today fermentation is no longer used in the production process. Instead the salmon is "buried" in a dry marinade of salt, sugar, and dill, and cured for a few days. As the salmon cures, by the action of osmosis, the moisture turns the dry cure into a highly concentrated brine, which can be used in Scandinavian cooking as part of a sauce. This same method of curing can be used for any fatty fish, but salmon is the most common.

Commercially prepared gravlax is sometimes smoked, and as such is incorrectly termed "gravlax". Salmon is not typically served raw in Scandinavia, but raw salmon is sometimes chopped and mixed with other ingredients in a salmon tartare.

Gravadlax Recipe Ingredients

  • 2 x 900g/2lbs thick salmon fillets, skin on, scaled and pin bones removed
  • 2 large bunches fresh dill, chopped
  • 4 tbsp coarse rock salt
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp white peppercorns, coarsely crushed
  • 4 tbsp ground cumin
  • 4 tbsp dark treacle (or golden syrup)

Tip:

Unused gravadlax can be re-wrapped in clean cling film or foil and kept in the fridge for up to five days.

Recipe Cooking and Preparation Method

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Gut and wipe clean the salmon then take two large fillets from each side, as close to the backbone as possible.

Make sure to pull out any pin bones with a knife.

 

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To make the curing mix: place the salt, dill, crushed white peppercorns, and sugar into a medium sized bowl. Add the cumin...
 

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...then the treacle... ... and stir to combine.
 

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Line a large, shallow, rectangular dish, to fit the salmon, with foil. Sprinkle some course sea salt over the foil surface and top it with one of the salmon fillets, skin-side down. Spread the curing mixture on top of the fillet.
 

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Top with the other half of the salmon skin-side up. Sprinkle over some coarse salt on top of the fillet and wrap in the foil. Wrap up the parcel tightly, tucking the ends and edges in underneath the fish.

Weigh the fish down with some cans or weights on top to remove any excess liquid or moisture. Place in fridge for about 5 days. Fish too big to fit in the fridge can be cured in a cool cellar or outhouse (provided it never exceeds 6C).

Food Serving Suggestion

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To serve. hold the knife parallel to the salmon and slice thinly down at an angle of about 30, leaving the skin behind. Gravadlax is traditionally served thicker than smoked salmon. Serve with rye bread.
 

 

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