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The word "Gravlax" literally means "pit salmon," and refers to the way that the fish used to be cured in countries such as Norway and Sweden. It may take a little time to be ready, but is actually very straightforward. Once you try it, I guarantee you will make it a regular. You can either slice the finished result thinly to go in sandwiches or on top of a bagel, or, as I did here, cut it more thickly to layer on toast with capers and crème fraiche. 

Top view of a plate of Gravlax with lemon slices, toasts and watercress by Simon Majumdar

Gravlax Recipe

(Serves About 6-10)


For the Salmon:

  • 1 Side Organic Alaskan Salmon (Around 3 lbs., Pin Bones Removed, Skin On or Off)

  • 1 Lemon 

  • 1 Orange 

  • 3 Bunches Fresh Dill (Retain A Few For Garnish)

  • ½ Cup Kosher Salt

  • ½ Cup Granulated Sugar

  • ¼ Cup Black Pepper

  • ¼ Cup Vodka

  • ¼ Cup Olive Oil


For Serving:

  • Crème Fraiche

  • Fresh Dill

  • 1 Lemon (Sliced)

  • Watercress

  • Capers 

  • Rye Bread


For the Salmon:

  1. Cut the salmon into two approximately identical sized fillets, and set aside.

  2. Zest the lemon and orange, and reserve.

  3. Slice the lemon and orange. 

  4. Lay two sheets of plastic wrap on top of a baking tray with deep sides. The plastic wrap should be large enough to wrap over the fish.

  5. Layer two slices of the lemon and orange in the middle of the plastic wrap.

  6. Place some dill on top the lemon and orange slices.

  7. In a large bowl that would fit the salmon fillets, combine the salt, pepper and sugar.

  8. Add the zest of the orange and lemon to the salt, pepper and sugar mix.

  9. Place the two salmon fillets in the salt, pepper, sugar and zest mix. Massage well until all of the flesh of the fish is well coated.

  10. Lay one piece of salmon on to the plastic wrap and top with a bunch of dill.

  11. Lay the second piece of salmon on top of the first piece of salmon, and top with one bunch of dill and the remaining lemon and orange slices.

  12. Drizzle the salmon with the vodka and olive oil.

  13. Wrap the salmon tightly in the plastic wrap until firmly sealed. 

  14. Wrap in one more layer of plastic wrap so the seal is completely tight.

  15. Place the sealed salmon in the baking tray. This method produces a lot of liquid, so you will need the tray to catch that.

  16. Place a plate on top of the plastic wrap and place a heavy weight on top of the plate.  Two or three cans of food should suffice.

  17. Refrigerate the salmon for 3-4 days. Make sure to turn the salmon over every 12 hours.

  18. After 3-4, days the fish should have firmed up and be ready to use.

  19. Remove from the plastic wrap and rinse well.

  20. Dry with kitchen towel and it is ready to carve.


To Serve:

  1. Carve the salmon.

  2. Sprinkle with a small amount of dill.

  3. Serve with the rye bread, watercress, capers, lemon slices and crème fraiche.

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