I made Salmon Gravlax!

Posted on Sat 11 July 2020 in Food

I joined some friends last weekend for a belated World Whisky Day celebration. The entry fee was, of course, a bottle of whisky (this year the theme was different finishing casks)... but we also each bring some delicious morsel that piques our interest.

This year, as I was bringing Glenmorangie's The Lasanta (aged in Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks), I decided my amuse-bouche would be sherry-based.

My treat was dried prunes, soaked in a dry sherry, then sprinkled with a pinch of salt, and eaten with a tamari-roasted almond. They were quite delicious - you only want to soak them for 5 hours or so though, they do go mushy. The salt is critically important; I'm not sure about the tamari, plain almonds may have been just as good.

Anyway, although my treat was great, it paled in comparison to one of the other treats - an amazing fresh salmon gravlax. I'd never heard of gravlax before, but it's actually just a method of curing salmon - sit it in a casing of sugar, salt, and dill for a couple days and it's done! Of course, I had to try it.

My hand, holding a slice of gravlax salmon which was way too thick.
My first introduction to salmon gravlax.

The recipe below has a couple tweaks, and it's taken almost entirely from https://www.recipetineats.com/cured-salmon-gravlax/.


  • For the salmon, skin on or off doesn't matter. I did mine skin-on, and it's a little annoying - next time I'll take it off.
  • The larger the salt granules, the better. I used this Himalayan rock salt. Avoid iodised salt, apparently.
  • Prefer bigger sugar granules, too - probably not coffee crystals, but raw sugar worked really nicely. Avoid icing sugar or caster sugar.
  • Use peppercorns if you can; they're fresher than pre-ground. If using pre-ground, add a bit extra. I used these ones.
  • Curing time is tricky. I did mine for 86 hours and it was definitely a hard-cure, but was still really good. I imagine the whisky weekend version had only been a 48-hour cure.


  • Salmon (de-boned)
  • Salt & Sugar (ratio below)
  • Pepper (about 2tsp per 500g salmon)
  • Dill (optional - about 25g per 500g salmon)
  • Coriander seeds (optional - about 2tsp per 500g salmon)
  • Grated lemon rind (optional - about a lemon's worth per 500g salmon)


  1. Bruise your dill, crush your peppercorns, whack your coriander seeds, and grate your lemon rind
  2. Mix your cure. I used a recipe of 4:1:1 (fish:sugar:salt), but next time I'm doing 5:1:1.
  3. Once your cure is mixed, fold in your spices and aromatics.
  4. Spread out half of your cure, lay the salmon on top, and then spread the rest of the cure on top.
  5. Bag it up! I used a vacuum sealer, but a sandwich bag or some plastic wrap will do the trick.
  6. Pop it in the fridge with a weight on it (people recommend a plate).
  7. Flip it over every 12-24 hours. Be careful - a lot of liquid will come out during the curing process!
  8. Once you've cured it for 24-72+ hours, pull it out and gently rinse off all the clumps of dill/pepper/salt etc.
  9. Wrap it in a paper towel to dry it off, then leave it unwrapped in the fridge for a few hours to finish drying out.
  10. Enjoy! Slice it with a nice sharp knife. I'm told it should be sliced "thin enough to read a newspaper through".
A slice of salmon, so covered in salt, sugar, and dill that the fish itself is invisible.  Ready to be bagged.
All ready to go into the vacuum sealer

Other thoughts

  • I've seen recipes that use aquavit... So next time I'm actually going to try a few tablespoons of gin!
  • The 4:1:1 ratio wasn't bad - it's just that I ended up pouring out lots of big chunks of salt, so I think it was unnecessary wastage.
  • I've didn't try coriander in this batch, but I'm super-keen to try it in the next one. I've also seen recipes use juniper berries, which is what made me think of the gin.
  • What to eat with gravlax? We had it on a platter that also contained seed crackers, a couple cheeses, fruit paste, salami, capers, and pickled gherkins. The capers were great.
Action shot!  Thinly-sliced salmon gravlax, whisky-cured pickled gherkins, avocado toast, and mulled wine.
Things got way too fancy, with the gravlax, some avocado toast, and mulled wine.