Cured salmon gravlax is the epitome of slow food. Requiring two to five days to cure, time does most of the work and there isn’t even any heat/cooking involved! With very minimal effort, this recipe rewards you with luscious flavour and really lets the rich buttery quality of salmon shine.
There’s something really grown up about owning your first set of proper chef knives. With a sudden boost of confidence thanks to renowned German knife brand F Dick who gifted me a very sleek chef’s set (including a roll bag which I’ve always wanted — because all the pros on Top Chef carry one), I decided to cure my own salmon gravlax from scratch with my newfound kitchen prowess!
Gravlax is a Nordic dish of raw salmon cured in nothing more than sugar, salt and dill. The name comes from the Scandinavian words grav (grave) and laks (salmon), as fishermen used to bury the salted fish in sand to preserve it.
Fancier gravlax can sometimes be cured with gin or vodka and infused with various spice nuances such as juniper berries, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and caraway seeds.
Gravlax is typically my go-to dish if I spot it on a cafe menu or even at IKEA!
I purchased sashimi grade salmon from Sydney Fish Market but you could otherwise buy a fillet of salmon with skin on (ask the fishmonger for bones to be removed) and freeze it to kill any bacteria.
I love the anise floral notes of fennel seeds accentuated with caraway seeds and coriander seeds so this made the base of my spices. First they were toasted off which brought alive the dormant aroma, and then ground to a fine powder in a pestle and mortar.
Next, a sprinkle of sugar and salt, followed by a generous lathering of chopped dill which imparts that distinctive gravlax fragrance.
Repeat the process on the other side and that my dear readers, is as far as “cooking” goes. The magic happens in the fridge.
Turn it once after 24 hours and drain the liquid; let it continue to cure for another day or two depending on your preference in texture and flavour. It will be firmer and saltier the longer it is left to cure.
There is no doubt the hardest part of making gravlax is the slicing of it! The secret is to have a super sharp knife; slice it very thinly on the diagonal and don’t worry if they aren’t perfect wide slices from the entire fillet because large or small strips will all taste great anyway and can be layered when plating! Serve on rye bread with a dill-mustard (chopped dill, mustard, vinegar, brown sugar) sauce.
Cured Salmon Gravlax
- 750 g sashimi-grade salmon
- 1 tbsp caraway seeds
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 40 g white sugar
- 40 g sea salt
- 2 bunches dill, roughly chopped (1 cup for the curing and 1 cup for serving)
- Toast the caraway seeds, fennel seeds and coriander seeds and grind using mortar and pestle.
- Lay the salmon flat on a piece of plastic wrap and sprinkle with the salt, followed by the sugar, the spices then the chopped dill.
- Flip the salmon over and repeat the process in the same order.
- Cover with plastic wrap and weigh down with a heavy chopping board and a couple of cans. Refrigerate for 12 hours. Uncover the salmon, turn over the fillet, re-cover with plastic wrap and the weights and refrigerate for up to 3-5 days depending on your taste preference, turning it every 12 hours.
- To serve, scrape all ingredients off salmon and scatter with remaining dill. Shave the salmon thinly on an angle, leaving the skin behind.
As far as a no-cook recipes go, this one is a definite keeper and will certainly impress if you’re hosting a party!