Instructions on how to make gravlax! Only 15 minutes of prep, and a 3-day cure in the fridge stand in between you and this Vodka Dill Cured Salmon Gravlax. Easy, yet elegant, this salmon is sure to be a showstopper for your next brunch or dinner party!
Updated: This post was originally published in June 2014. I made edits to the photos and added a RECIPE VIDEO to show you how easy this is to make! However, the actual story and written words below in this post remain the same.
Hey buuuuuuudddies. (<- Anyone else remember Encino Man? Or am I aging myself? And, ummm, what happened to Pauly Shore?)
How was your weekend? Was it straight up stupendous?
Do tell. I like to live vicariously through you… mostly because I’m rather boring and spend a majority of my time in ‘comfy clothes’. So humor me and gimme the deets!
Anywho, today we are going to kick it old school! I originally posted this recipe for gravlax waaaaaay back in the day. Like, this was one of THE FIRST recipes EVER posted on NSN. It should come as no shocker that the original photos were gawd awful. However, this is honestly one of my ALL time favorite recipes on this blog.
With Easter and Mother’s Day right around the corner, I decided it absolutely NEEDED to be brought back to life. So, I’ve tweaked the recipe to tasty perfection and, obviously, I re-shot the photos, because I wouldn’t want to break your eyeballs with appalling photography.
Anyways, enough long-winded nonsense. Let’s do the dang thang and make some gravlax, shall we?
How To Make Gravlax
AKA Show Stopping Vodka-Dill Cured Salmon Gravlax.
Cured salmon infused with herbaceous dill, tart orange, sour lemon and mild vodka.
This gravlax is nothing short of sensational! Rich, luxurious, savory and mildly salty in flavor, this salmon is elegant eats at its finest!
Slice it thin, serve it with an array of accoutrements and prepare to WOW. This is luxury food made affordable, my friends.
A quick note for any of you naysayers who are questioning my use of the word “affordable” – I bought the one pound center cut side of Atlantic salmon you see here for $13.99. And when I looked, a pound of store bought gravlax was about $50.00.
Economical eats in the house!!
What is cured gravlax salmon?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with gravlax, it is simply salmon that has been cured with salt and sugar, and infused with dill and aromatics. Gravlax is a specialty of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
The beginning portion of the word, ‘grav’, comes from the Scandinavian word meaning ”to dig”, and the latter portion of the word, ‘lax’, means ”salmon”. Essentially, gravlax means ‘buried salmon’, and refers to how gravlax was originally prepared – buried in the sand on the beach until it was fermented.
Gravlax and lox are not the same thing, while lox are cold-smoked, gravlax is simply cured with a dry brine.
What to serve with Gravlax?
Gravlax is best served as part of a spread for either an appetizer, or it makes a great addition to brunch!
Traditionally in Scandinavia, the thin slices of gravlax are served with various breads, or an assortment of crackers along with butter and a mustard-dill sauce.
I normally serve it as an appetizer on a platter with plenty of thinly sliced fresh vegetables, artisan bread and specialty crackers.
Or, if I’m opting to serve gravlax for brunch, I switch out the artisan bread for bagels or toast, along with a chive or herb studded cream cheese.
How long does gravlax keep?
While gravlax is cured salmon, it is only lightly cured, meaning it does extend the shelf life of the salmon, but only by a little!
Gravlax WILL go bad.
Exactly how long gravlax will last depends on a few factors.
First, it depends on the quality of the fish when you purchased it. Always make sure you are purchasing fresh, sushi-grade salmon! If you are unsure of the quality, just let your fishmonger, or your trusted source for fish, know that you are planning on eating the salmon raw.
As well, the shelf life for gravlax depends on how you store and handle the gravlax. Make sure you keep the gravlax stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Those two factors aside, gravlax will generally keep for 3 days after it has been cured. Make sure you do not eat gravlax that has any sort of bad odor.
How to make gravlax at home? Step-by-step, how to cure salmon:
Making gravlax is one of the EASIEST things on planet earth. I swear.
BUT, it does require A LOT of patience. Like, 72 hours’ worth of patience.
First, you will make a suuuuper simple dry cure which consists of lemon zest, orange zest, sugar, sea salt, pepper and loads of dill.
Second, you will lay a large piece of plastic wrap down on a work surface and place a double layer of cheesecloth on top. ⬅️ This will act like a cocoon for the salmon.
Next, sprinkle some of your dry cure down over the cheesecloth and place the salmon on top.
Now comes the fun part, you drizzle some vodka on top of the salmon. Then you sprinkle the remaining dry cure onto the salmon, and use your hands to rub it into the fish.
Wrap the salmon up in its cheesecloth-plastic wrap cocoon to form a tight package.
Place the salmon in a baking dish and top it with a light weight. You can use a brick, a heavy platter, a pan weighed down with canned goods. Honestly, I’ve tried it all, including weighing it down with a full bag of flour. Whatever’s clever, you guys. Just weigh it down and make sure the weight is evenly distributed across the salmon. The weight helps expedite the curing process by drawing out the moisture and infusing the flavors more quickly.
Here comes the patience part…
Place your weighed down salmon in the refrigerator for at least 48 hours (for a very light cure) up to 3 days (for a heavier cure), and make sure you TURN the fish over ONCE A DAY.
After the curing process, remove the salmon from its wrapping, rinse it off with cool water, pat it dry and place it back in the refrigerator, UNCOVERED, for about an hour to air dry.
DONE AND DONE.
Take a bow. You have now just mastered the art of curing salmon.
All that’s left to do is thinly slice the salmon on a bias and chow down.
Recipe Notes, Tips & Tricks on How to Make Gravlax:
- You want to make sure you use the freshest salmon possible! Always get your fish from a trusted source, whether that be your fishmonger, a specialty store, or your local grocer, just make sure you aren’t purchasing some sketchy fish. Your salmon should smell like the ocean!
- If you are looking for the most luscious tasting gravlax, be sure to purchase Atlantic salmon. Due to the high fat content of Atlantic salmon, it will yield the richest, tastiest end result!
- Also, make sure there are no pin bones in the salmon filet. You can ask the dude at the fish counter to remove them for you if you aren’t sure.
- If vodka isn’t your thing, you can substitute gin or aquavit.
- If you don’t have Himalayan pink sea salt, just substitute regular coarse sea salt.
- If you want a sweeter, less salty cured salmon, switch the ratios of salt and sugar. I.e. use 4 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of salt.
- Make sure you let your salmon cure for AT LEAST a full 24 hours. This will produce a slightly cured salmon. I personally think 3 days is perfect, as the extra time will allow the fish to become just a bit more firm and flavorful.
- How to slice gravlax? When carving your gravlax use a SHARP knife, carve at a BIAS and slice it THIN. If you use a dull knife you will tear the salmon. If you don’t carve at a bias, your salmon slices will come out as teeny-tiny little strips. Breakdown – If you have a sharp knife, carve it on a bias AND slice it thin, you will yield more slices from the entire filet of salmon. Bonus – the gravlax will look better.
Downright delicious, luxurious, and easier than pie to prepare, this Vodka Dill Cured Salmon Gravlax NEEDS to make an appearance at your next brunch, dinner party, hors d’oeuvres night, Easter, Mother’s day… whatever. JUST DO THIS!
Until Thursday friends, cheers – to sensational salmon.
How to make Gravlax Salmon at home recipe and video👇
How To Make Gravlax - Vodka Dill Cured Salmon
- 1 Pound Center Cut Salmon (sushi-grade recommended) - Skin on & Pin Bones Removed
- 2 TBS Vodka (SEE NOTES)
- 1 Lemon - Zest
- 1 Orange - Zest
- 4 TBS Fresh Cracked Pink Himalayan Sea Salt (SEE NOTES)
- 3 TBS Granulated Sugar
- ½ tsp Fresh Cracked Pepper
- ½ Cup Fresh Dill chopped
- Combine all the DRY CURE ingredients in a small, non-reactive bowl.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap (large enough to wrap around the entire fish) on a clean work surface. Place a double layer of cheesecloth, twice the size of the salmon, on top of the plastic wrap.
- Sprinkle a heaping 2 tablespoons of the dry cure OVER the cheesecloth.
- Place the salmon, skin side down, on top of the dry cure. Drizzle the vodka over the fish. EVENLY, and liberally, coat the salmon with the remaining dry cure, using your hands to RUB it into the fish.
- Wrap the cheesecloth around the salmon, followed by the plastic wrap, to completely seal the fish forming a tight package.
- Place the wrapped salmon on a wire rack set on a heavy sheet pan (or in a baking dish). Top the salmon with a weight* evenly distributed across the salmon to expedite curing process.
- Refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours, up to 3 days*, TURNING OVER ONCE A DAY. (If only lightly curing for 24 hours, flip the fish over at the 12 hour mark)
- Remove salmon from wrapping and rise off with cool water to remove the dry cure. Pat dry. Place the salmon back on the wire rack and place in the refrigerator (uncovered) for about an hour to air dry.
- Thinly slice the salmon on a bias and serve!
- You want to make sure you use the freshest salmon possible! Always get your fish from trusted source, whether that be your fishmonger, a specialty store, or your local grocer, just make sure you aren’t purchasing some sketchy fish. Your salmon should smell like the ocean!
- Also, make sure there are no pin bones in the salmon filet. You can ask your fishmonger to remove them for you if you aren’t sure.
- If vodka isn’t your thing, you can substitute gin or aquavit.
- Make sure you are using coarsely ground salt! If you don’t have Himalayan pink sea salt, just substitute regular coarse sea salt. If you are using finely ground salt, reduce the amount of salt by 2-3 teaspoons.
- If you want a sweeter, less salty cured salmon, switch the ratios of salt and sugar. (i.e. use 4 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of salt)
- Make sure you let your salmon cure for AT LEAST 24 hours. This will produce a slightly cured salmon. I personally think 3 days is perfect, as the extra time will allow the fish to become just a bit more firm and flavorful.
- When carving your gravlax use a SHARP knife, carve at a BIAS and slice it THIN. If you use a dull knife you will tear the salmon. If you don’t carve at a bias, your salmon slices will come out as teeny-tiny little strips. Breakdown - If you have a sharp knife, carve it on a bias AND slice it thin, you will yield more slices from the entire filet of salmon. Bonus – the gravlax will look better.