Making proper Gravlax the Swedish way

A friend just asked me how I make Gravlax so as I was sending her the recipe I thought I would post it here as well. It is something I make pretty often so have refined the method to make it as easy as possible. If you follow this recipe and the recipe for the sauce below, exactly you will have no difficulty in producing the best, most authentic Gravlax you have ever tasted! This recipe can be used to cure a large piece of salmon for a party or simply to cure a little piece as a weeknight treat.

Proper Swedish Gravlax as made in Sweden

Per I kilo raw salmon:
4  Tbsp sugar – I use Billington’s natural caster
4 Tbsp salt regular fine salt – not rock salt
2 tsp white pepper coarsely ground – much more authentic than black pepper
1 large bunch fresh dill, chopped
2 large sealable plastic bags

Buy good quality salmon and ask your fishmonger to remove it from the bone, leaving the skin on. It’s worth buying a substantial piece as it can be kept in the fridge for at least 3-4 days once the salt etc has been removed.
Make sure all the pin bones are removed from the fillets feeling carefully with your fingertips and pulling out any remaining with a pair of tweezers. You can get special pin bone removing tweezers but eyebrow ones work well too!
Mix together the salt, sugar and white pepper.
Spread a large piece of clingfilm on your work surface and lay one half of the salmon on it, skin side down. Spread the salt mix over the salmon, and add the chopped dill. Lay the other salmon half flesh side down on top, thick end to thin end. Now you will understand why you put the clingfilm down first has a lot of the cure ingredients spill out, but just use the clingfilm to wrap it all around the salmon and then put the whole parcel into one of the plastic bags, seal and fold it neatly and then put inside the other bag and seal. I find that a single bag always leaks – belt and braces!
Leave the parcel in the fridge for 48 hours turning it over now and again.

When it is ready, unwrap the salmon and scrape off the cure ingredients, pour away the liquid that has been produced and wipe the fish down with kitchen paper.

In Sweden gravlax is usually sliced quite thickly straight across the flesh or at a slight angle, and should be served with Gravlax Sauce, Add lemon wedges, and black and white pepper to grind on if wished. And it can be served as a main course with boiled potatoes, buttered spinach and perhaps poached eggs.

Gravad lax can also be frozen very successfully – put it in a plastic bag with plenty of freshly chopped dill – and when serving slice it before it has thawed completely to make very precise slices.

Gravlax sauce
The essential sauce to accompany classic Swedish gravlax, depends on masses of fresh dill to give a magical taste that complements the salmon perfectly
2 dl fresh dill  chopped
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp caster sugar
1 dl Swedish sweet mustard can buy at Ikea or use at a pinch use French’s American mustard with an extra 1 tsp ugar
3 dl rape seed oil
1 pinch ground white pepper
1 tsp vinegar if necessary
Put about half of the dill into a round bottomed bowl, sprinkle the sugar and salt over and work into the dill with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the mustard and stir in.
Using an electric mixer whisk in the oil drop by drop gradually incorporating it, whisking all the while. It is essential not to rush this as the mixture can separate. As you whisk and add the oil, the emulsifying effect of the mustard will incorporate it all into a smooth shiny thick sauce.
Add the rest of the chopped dill, season to taste with a little white pepper and perhaps a drop of vinegar.
Tip: If despite your best efforts the sauce does separate add a few drops of lemon juice and beat again

NB 1 dl = 100 ml = 1/10 litre

Photo Notes
Shot on Olympus EP-1 using daylight, processed in Lightroom 3.


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