Mom’s Gravlax

I wasn’t kidding about wishing that people come to visit you bearing cured meats.  I really do wish that for you, because it’s such a great thing.  And my mom is getting in on the whole curing thing, which just makes me happy.  My family generally shows up bearing baked goods, which are always welcome (so keep them coming too!), but to bring something that takes several days to put together takes a bit more planning.  And hey, if it relies on centuries-old traditions of adding salt and spices in order to transform raw fish into something delicious to put on a bagel, well, that’s just a little more special.  When the family came for a recent visit over the holiday, mom brought some home-cured gravlax that she made this year for Christmas morning.  We’re not even Scandinavian, but I think we might have a new family tradition.

Gravlax – recipe from family friends, the DiDios

Salmon fillet
1/2 cup non-iodized/kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
bunch of fresh dill
fresh lemons
juniper berries (optional)

Mix sugar and salt together
Cut salmon in half lengthwise, pour salt and sugar mixture over meat side
Crush dill and put on each half
Soak both sides with lemon
Sandwich the halves together with skin on the outside
Wrap in plastic wrap and then foil, or put into a ziploc bag
Place in refrigerator and place a weight on top (it can be helpful to put the salmon package into a baking dish or casserole in case of leakage)
Refrigerate for 3 days, flipping the fish over every 12 hours

Before serving scrape off all remaining ingredients, rinse, pat dry, slice thin to serve.


About Scott

occasionally-bearded teacher/musician/cook
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12 Responses to Mom’s Gravlax

  1. Cameron says:

    Hey — if I were to use the Juniper Berries, I assume I would put them inside the sandwich with the rest of the ingredients, yes? Is there anything I need to know about them, given that I’ve never cooked with them before?

    • Scott says:

      Carmeron, yes, I’d crush them and include them in the salmon sandwich. My guess is that a little bit would go a long way though — a few berries would do it, because you wouldn’t want them to overpower the other ingredients. I love the flavor of juniper in cured pork, but I haven’t done it with salmon yet. Another option would be to drizzle some gin on there before wrapping it up, since gin is basically juniper-infused vodka. So maybe the next time it’ll be Hendricks-cured salmon! Let me know if you try it.

      I don’t think mom put them in this batch. Mom, did you use any juniper berries?

  2. Cameron says:

    Hey — another question…is there a difference between gravlax and lox, or is the latter simply an abbreviation for the former?

  3. Scott says:

    Basically the same thing, yeah. Lachs, lax, lox, and laks all mean salmon (according to Wikipedia). So i think the only differences are the spices that go into the cure. Niether are traditionally smoked. I mean, you can cold smoke it, but then it’s not lox anymore, apparently.

  4. Cameron says:

    That’s odd. It seems that every time I order lox, I get something smokey on a bagel. Yummy, but smokey.

  5. Scott says:

    I think it’s a technicality. Not one I’m worried about, but I guess it is for the people who decide, you know, whoever they are. And that’s just in the historical derivation of the word, too, so I think you’re right; in actual usage “lox” has become synonymous with “smoked salmon.” The purists must be furious!

  6. Cameron says:

    Well, now I can choose either the moral high ground or the forward-thinking, change-is-good point of view — whatever suits me in the moment. I love choice.

  7. Pingback: Of course we’re doing Charcutepalooza! | Smoke Cure Pickle Brew

  8. Paul says:

    Adding my 2 cents here: I did a modified version of this as I was planning on doing smoked salmon in the cold smoker. Added toasted juniper and cracked peppercorns. Ruhlman says 36 hours with no flipping. Since that jived with my timetable, I went with it. Another 12 hours would not have hurt, but not sure it was necessary.
    Fortunately, I had 2 fillets. One piece for the purists, one piece to go in the smoker for the more forward-thinking folks. The simple cured gravlax was a huge hit. Haven’t sliced into the smoked stuff yet.

  9. Eric says:

    An Estonian colleague brought some gravlox to a recent science department meeting (read: cocktail party) and it was incredible. How long does the fish last in the fridge after it’s done curing (just in case you don’t eat it all at once)?

  10. Scott says:

    I don’t know. The curing prolongs the shelf life, of course — that being the main reason for the salt cure in the first place — but I’m not sure by how long. It doesn’t usually last that long in our house.

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