salt and salmon = gravlax

During the week I discovered the most wonderful new book. It’s called ‘the salt book’. I spent the weekend curled up with it, turning its beautiful glossy pages, and reading about my favourite seasoning. This delightful book decribes variations from Fleur de Sel through Sea Salt, Rock Salt, Table Salt and Grey Salt. The chapter ‘Know Your Salt’, also includes Pink Salt, Red Black and Blue Salt, Smoked Salt, Flavoured Salt, and The Himalayan Salt Block.

Salt, is such an important part of the history of food, and helps not only bring out flavours, but is also important in preserving.

I’ve been known to take salt as a symbolic gift when I first share a new table. My own kitchen includes a variety of different salts, for cookery and for table. Once an expensive commodity, I still follow folklore and throw salt over my left shoulder if I spill a precious drop.

Once upon a time, I worked daily with salt, to dry cure salmon. So, Gravlax holds a special place in my heart. The book includes a Gravlax recipe. It reminded me, that with a little time and forethought, this is something we can all make in our homes, to share with family and friends. Here, the publisher has generously shared their recipe from ‘the salt book’ with you. (and the photos are courtesy of the publisher too).

“… unlike the Scandinavian fishermen who invented it in the Middle Ages, there is no need to make your gravlax by burying your fish in the sand above the high tide line; it will taste fantastic after just two days in the refrigerator …”


1 salmon fillet skin on
for each kg salmon:
50g sea salt
50g sugar
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
zest of 2 lemons
50g fresh dill

Mix all the curing ingredients together in a bowl. Trim the salmon and remove any pin bones. Place it in a shallow dish, skin side down, and rub the cure into the flesh. Cover the salmon with a layer of cling film and place a chopping board on top, weighted down with two or three cans.

Put the salmon in the fridge. After 24 hours, drain of any excess liquid, turn the salmon over and weight it down again. After a further 24 hours, the gravlax will be ready.

If left whole, the gravlax will keep for another five days. When you are ready to serve it, use a long, sharp knife to slice the flesh on the diagonal, starting at the tail end.

If you wish to spice up your gravlax a little, sprinkle a shot glass worth of vodka or pastis over the salmon, then refrigerate for an hour before applying the curing mixture.

‘the salt book your guide to salting wisely and well, with recipes’ is by Fritz Gubler & David Glynn with Dr Russell Keast and

The Salt Book is available for purchase online from Arbon Publishing.

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Comments for this article

10 Responses to “salt and salmon = gravlax”

  1. Bill Dietrich says:
    March 9, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Great job Rebecca. You should be proud : )

  2. Stephen Estcourt says:
    March 9, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Great recipe Bec. I do Ocean Trout regularly. Learnt from a friend in Helsinki.
    BTW The Zuni Cafe Cookbook is great if you are into salt.

  3. stix [grubstix] says:
    March 17, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    gravlax is one of my signature dishes. great recipe.
    fell in love with it when i was visiting friends in sweden.
    still serve it for b’fast

  4. pierre says:
    March 22, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    hello rebecca
    I love gravlax this is so refreshing !! thanks for the recipe !! cheers from Paris Pierre

  5. Y says:
    March 28, 2010 at 9:02 am

    I love gravlax. Might have to look out for that book!

  6. Tania says:
    April 6, 2010 at 10:06 am

    This weekend, I made my first gravlax, unfortunately before reading your recipe, and am curious to know, how much curing is enough,can you overdo it? Mine seemed really hard (after 36 hours, with very thin fillet) , but sliced up and tasted fine.

    • Rebecca Varidel
      Rebecca Varidel says:
      April 6, 2010 at 8:48 pm

      Hi Tania,

      Well congratulations on your gravlax. The longer you dry cure the more moisture is removed from fish, and the more intense the flavour becomes. Its just a matter of preference really. When I made gravlax professionally every day we would cure for only about 8 hours, and it was a much lighter flavour. I think you may have been at around the maximum time. Good luck with next time (now you have a recipe too)! Becca

  7. Fig and Cherry says:
    April 15, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Lovely review Rebecca! It sounds like a fantastic book.

  8. Peter Bagi says:
    April 27, 2010 at 6:36 am

    this is great, I’ve been meaning to get to making this. I love cured food!

  9. Maria says:
    June 4, 2010 at 5:41 am

    Gravlax is one of my favourites and I make it all the time at home! It’s just too simple to make! I give 1,5-2 days for about 500g of salmon and it shouldn’t be too salty: 1-1,5tbs sea salt flakes is all you need for that amount of fish (well for my taste anyway) :)

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