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The Best Gravlax Recipe On The Internet
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April 12, 2011
3:50 pm
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Gravlax is a traditional Nordic dish of raw salmon cured with salt, sugar, and dill. Step by step directions, with pictures: read on!

It's absolutely delicious when made well.
It impresses guests and significant others, because it's exotic.
It's dead easy to make, even if you're a kitchen klutz...

...and nearly every recipe I've found on the Internet is wrong. Most of them produce gravlax that is either raw in the middle, hard and crusty on the outside, or tastes like a Styrofoam salt lick—which is a tragedy, because properly made gravlax is so delicious that I've eaten over a pound and…

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April 12, 2011
4:41 pm
Namu
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I will try this recipe if it's the last thing I do. OK, probably much sooner than the last thing I do. Like, maybe this weekend?

I'll report back with results!

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April 12, 2011
4:41 pm
Caveman Home Compani
Guest

I must say, this is the most unusual recipe I've seen in awhile. However, I'm going to try it!

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April 12, 2011
6:59 pm
Chris
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JS,
Thanks for this recipe! Looks amazing. I also enjoy slicing my freshly finished dish and popping it straight into my mouth. Why dirty a dish? ;)

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April 12, 2011
11:56 pm
Franco
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Plastic wrap! Uh! The devil!!!

Seriously, what about wax paper, like in the good old days?

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April 13, 2011
1:33 am
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Namu:

Excellent!  Let me know how it turns out for you.  It's fun to have a recipe where it's impossible to burn or undercook anything.

Caveman:

Cured meat has a long history.  I suspect meat has been preserved with brine for a long, long time...especially in cold climates like Northern Europe.

Chris: 

Why indeed? And if you're sneaking my half-and-half out of the refrigerator, you shouldn't complain when it's got my germs on the spout.

Franco:

I don't know...I've never tried it.  I suspect you'd need some tape in order to keep the bundle tight.  Try it and let me know what you find out!

JS

 

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April 13, 2011
2:15 am
Björn Axén
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When I make gravlax (or in Swedish "gravar laxen" in present tense) I do not use either suger or lime but salt, white and black pepper, dill, that I do not mince, and put it in the fridge for at least 24h.

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April 13, 2011
2:36 am
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Björn:

How much salt do you use per weight of fish?  I'd love to be able to tell people how to make it without sugar.  (Credit to you, of course.)

I'm biased towards the salt/sugar because I eat it naked, and the salt gets overwhelming when I sock down half a pound or more...but if I were eating it more traditionally and in smaller quantities, on crisp bread or toast, I'm sure I'd like the salty/peppery version, too.

JS

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April 13, 2011
6:33 am
HeMan
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Growing up on what now they've now labeled "The World's Greatest Salmon River", I've had my fill of the beasties, pretty much all we ate some months.

Also a great fan of sashimi so I know they freeze the salmon before preparing it, in order to kill the tapeworms that salmon often carry... I'm wondering if this method would do the same. Not a big fan of fish tapeworm myself. If the salting is done right, likely.

And remember, farmed salmon is killing the wild stocks, likely doesn't have the same nutritional content (certainly doesn't taste right to me), so don't buy it.

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April 13, 2011
7:11 am
Björn Axén
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yes, it is recomended to freeze the salmon in advance. Regarding the salt don't have a specific measure for it, just a feeling. I use sea salt that I crumble over the salmon so the whole of it covered. I try to use as little as possible and still cover the whole side of the filet.

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April 13, 2011
12:57 pm
Jeff G
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Having tried your Gravlax I stoked to give this a try, thanks!

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April 13, 2011
1:30 pm
Katie @ Wellness Mam
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This looks delicious. I'm trying this as soon as I've got some fresh salmon in the house!

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April 13, 2011
4:49 pm
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Björn:

Do let me know if you ever decide to measure it...for instance, by shaking the salt out of a measuring spoon and counting how much you used.

HeMan:

That's a good question about the tapeworms.  I know the cure kills a lot of fermentation, as I've made gravlax from salmon that was starting to get a bit whiffy (hey, it was 50% off!) and it came out fine.

Most of my experimentation was trying to figure out how little salt/sugar I could use and still actually cure the fish.  Not enough, and it's still raw and mushy: too much and it's hard and crusty.  When it's just right the fish firms up and is much easier to slice thinly. 

Keep in mind that typical home freezer temperatures aren't supposed to be low enough to kill parasites: -4 degrees F for 7 days is considered a minimum (source).  Dry salting is considered to kill all parasites, but the recommendation is for 5-7 days.

Of course these are government recommendations, which err on the side of paranoia.  Personally I don't worry about it: most parasites are visible, and are much more of a concern with restaurant-prepared fish than with fish I'm preparing (and closely inspecting) myself.

Jeff:

Go for it!  It's remarkably simple.

Katie:

Let me know how it works for you!  It makes me want to start a herb garden so I have a reliable supply of fresh dill.

JS

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April 14, 2011
2:08 am
Sten Rylander
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After reading your article I did a quick check in my Swedish cookbook collection and found a number of recepies for "Gravad Lax" or cured salmon. Some are more than a 100 years old. Gravad = sugarsalted. If you remove the sugar it's salted.

It's fairly evenly spread between more sugar than salt, more salt than sugar and the same amount of both. More sugar than salt makes it a little milder.
I think that the amounts is not that important as long as the mix cover the whole side of the salmon.

2 kg Salmon cut in 2 equally large pcs
150-200 grams of salt
150-200 grams sugar
Mix sugar and salt and rubb part of the mix on all 4 sides. Then put one side on a plate with meatside up and cover it with the rest of the mixture.
10-20 crushed whitepeppercorns sprinkled over.
1 cup of dill coarsley cut, on top of that.
Your Step 10-15.

For me lime comes later when you eat the salmon, but it's always fun to experiment.

SR

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April 14, 2011
4:17 am
Jo at Jo's Heal
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I love gravlax. It's a must during Christmas time ever since I was a child growing up in Sweden. I make my own too..Yummy, now I have to and get some salmon..

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April 14, 2011
6:22 pm
Johnnyv
Guest

This sounds great!
I will have to make some this weekend.
Think I will cold smoke some after the cure and see how that turns out.

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April 15, 2011
1:48 am
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Sten:

Thanks for digging that up!  White pepper is definitely a good addition if you use 1:1 salt:sugar.  I think the lime goes best with the sweeter mixtures, and the pepper goes best with the saltier mixtures.

You're reminding me that I should offer the recipe in metric units, too.  Fortunately a teaspoon is basically 5ml.

Jo:

Glad I could remind you.  Enjoy!

Johnnyv:

Make sure to try some unsmoked, too...and let me know how the smoked stuff turns out!

JS

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May 5, 2011
11:51 am
Jock
Guest

I've made gravlax many times with more salt and sugar than this and quite successfully too judging by how much people seem to enjoy it. That said, reducing the salt to a minimum without compromising the results can only be a good thing. I bought some salmon this morning to make gravlax for Mother's Day and I will try these proportions.

I'm a bit surprised there is no mention of alcohol in this discussion. I usually add a TBS or two of vodka (or sometimes tequila or whatever). I know that in Scandinavia aquavit (sp?) might be used. Is that typical/traditional?

Jock

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May 5, 2011
12:34 pm
Jock
Guest

I have hot smoked cured salmon before but without the dill. I find that the hot smoked dill has an unpleasant taste. Don't know if the same would apply to cold smoked.

Jock

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May 5, 2011
5:42 pm
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Jock:

Most of the recipes I see use much more salt and sugar, and then depend on stopping the cure at the right time.  I came up with this one because I don't want to have to worry about how long I cure or how thick the fish is.  Just throw it in the fridge, turn it a few times, and pull it out anytime after two days.

Let me know how it works for you!  I'm open to changes and refinements.

JS

And, a note to everyone: it's not nearly as good without the lime.  I made a batch without and added the lime afterwards, and it's just not the same.

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