Explainers

How to make salmon gravlax

Set up a celebration station at your next party with this show-stopping gin-cured salmon gravlax as the hero.
Gravlax recipe

Salmon gravlax with micro herbs, crushed pink peppercorns, and edible flowers (as referenced in our serving suggestion below).

Alicia Taylor

Translated as “buried salmon” from Swedish, gravlax refers to the medieval custom in Scandinavia of burying lightly salted salmon and other types of fish in the ground, or in barrels, covered with birch bark, as a way of preserving fish for winter. These days, gravlax is the ideal summer entertaining dish: one you can prepare ahead of time, without an oven, that’s easy for guests to serve themselves and build their own entrée.

Here, we use gin and beetroot to cure the fish, adding both flavour and colour. Pair it with a signature gin-based cocktail, or simply serve with perfectly chilled Champagne.

Step 1

Step 1

To cure salmon, place 250gm each rock salt and caster sugar in a large bowl with 300gm coarsely grated beetroot (we used a 1kg boneless fillet). Coarsely chop fennel fronds, dill and flat-leaf parsley leaves (about ½ cup combined) and add zest of 1 lemon and 100ml gin. Toss to combine.

Step 2

Step 2

Spread half mixture in the base of a non-reactive container large enough to fit salmon snugly. Place a boneless fillet of salmon, skin-side down, on top of mixture and spread remaining mixture on top. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours (see note) to cure.

Curing time will depend on the thickness of your fish. As a general rule, allow a minimum of 24 to 48 hours to cure. Turn the fillet halfway through the curing process to allow an even distribution of flavour. You can also apply this technique to other types of fish, such as kingfish, ocean trout, or Spanish mackerel.

Step 3

Remove salmon from cure, brush off remaining mixture and pat dry.

Step 4

For an optional herb crust, toast 2 tsp fennel seeds in a small pan until fragrant (30 seconds), then crush with a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a bowl, add ⅓ cup combined finely chopped dill, chervil, chives, and flat-leaf parsley and zest of 1 lemon and half an orange; mix well.

Step 5

Step 5, optional herb crust

Place salmon on a large chopping board, skin-side down. Brush lightly with 2½ tbsp Dijon mustard, then scatter with herb mixture, pressing it into the salmon. Using a salmon slicing knife or long flexible filleting knife, thinly slice salmon, slicing off the skin.

Sliced salmon gravlax with optional herb crust

Serving suggestion

To create a self-service entrée, as seen in our lead image above, serve the whole fillet on a large platter, scattered with micro herbs, crushed pink peppercorns, and edible flowers (we used nasturtiums). Serve with a selection of sliced bread, crackers and blinis, along with salmon roe, crème fraîche, and pickled vegetables (we used red onion and cucumber). Leave guests to assemble as desired.

Ingredients

Herb crust (optional)

Method

1.To cure salmon, place 250gm each rock salt and caster sugar in a large bowl with 300gm coarsely grated beetroot (we used a 1kg boneless fillet). Coarsely chop fennel fronds, dill and flat-leaf parsley leaves (about ½ cup combined) and add zest of 1 lemon and 100ml gin. Toss to combine.
2.Spread half mixture in the base of a non-reactive container large enough to fit salmon snugly. Place a boneless fillet of salmon, skin-side down, on top of mixture and spread remaining mixture on top. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours (see note) to cure.
3.Remove salmon from cure, brush off remaining mixture and pat dry.
4.For an optional herb crust, toast 2 tsp fennel seeds in a small pan until fragrant (30 seconds), then crush with a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a bowl, add 1/3 cup combined finely chopped dill, chervil, chives, and flat-leaf parsley and zest of 1 lemon and half an orange; mix well.
5.Place salmon on a large chopping board, skin-side down. Brush lightly with 2½ tbsp Dijon mustard, then scatter with herb mixture, pressing it into the salmon. Using a salmon slicing knife or long flexible filleting knife, thinly slice salmon, slicing off the skin.

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