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The Best Gravlax Recipe On The Internet
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December 14, 2011
7:55 am
Inga
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Just an FYI about storage, if you leave it covered in the fridge, the curing process isn't actually stopped, so if you aren't going to eat the whole thing within a day or two, I would freeze the rest. This stops the curing process.

If you like gravlax, you should try "sursild", pickled herring. Another nordic traditional dish, and can be varied indefinitely. It's a little more tricky to make than gravlax, but oh so tasty, especially around christmas when we Scandinavians need an injection of vitamin D, since we haven't seen the sun in so long.

December 14, 2011
10:19 am
Larry
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Read this post start to finish, thank you for the recipe, I'm trying for the first time this week. I've smoked salmon with excellent results and never worry about parasites. But just for clarification, you buy a filet of salmon at the locale Costco or meat counter, cure it for 3 days with this recipe, and serve it right away? A few other recipes on the web suggest freezing for 7 days afterward. I'm not afraid I have no problem eating raw hamburger on occasion, but I'll be serving to friends and family, don't want anyone mad at me.

December 15, 2011
3:07 pm
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Inga:

The reason my recipe works so well is because the curing process does indeed stop, due to all the salt and sugar being absorbed.  Regular recipes depend on stopping the cure at the right time, because they add way too much sugar and salt.  I've verified this by leaving the fish wrapped and "curing" for a week before eating it...it tasted the same.

I'll have to look into sursild...unfortunately I don't think I can get herring where I live!

Larry:

That's what I've always done -- and neither I nor any of the people I've served it to (nor any of my commenters) have ever had a problem.  But like I've said, there's probably some government advisory against it, and you eat it at your own risk.

JS

January 5, 2012
6:42 am
Edmund Sykes
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I have made gravad-lax for many years but I have never thought of smoking it before I will post the results of my current cure which is in the fridge now as soon as one half has been smoked and tasted by an "independent" panel.

February 15, 2012
10:51 pm
Es
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Hmmm ... I like the sandwiching technique, and the lime and mincing the dill ... but I think when I try this I will stick with the recipes that completely coat the exposed flesh with the salt/sugar mixture, and weight it down. Maybe you have to be careful about overcuring ... but I love the uniform deep red looks of that technique.

Thanks for posting this recipe!!

February 16, 2012
12:07 am
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Es:

The reason I only pile the salt/sugar in the center is because it diffuses slowly throughout the meat as the cure progresses.  When I distribute it evenly over the surface, the (thinner) edges become hard and crusty while the (thicker) center is still soft and raw.

Salt/sugar amount and ratios are a judgment call.  I wouldn't use any less in total, as the meat won't completely cure…but you can certainly add more salt, sugar, or both.  Lots of people like the more traditional recipe with 1/2 salt and 1/2 sugar, and some people like a harder cure with more total salt+sugar.

Let me know what you find out!  I'm always interested to hear how this recipe works for my readers, and what variations they've been successful with.

JS

February 26, 2012
4:20 pm
Gail
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Thanks for the recipe. I zested half a lime & mixed that with the dill (& added a bit of fresh parsley too). I think it worked out well, got some nice flavor without having to worry about the acid burns. You may want to give it a try. It eliminated having to spread the dill over both pieces, I just piled the dill/lime zest/parsley mix on one.

February 27, 2012
4:39 pm
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Gail:

Zesting is a good idea.  I don't mandate it because most people don't have a zester and zesting with a knife is a bit tricky...but I bet it tasted great!  Perhaps I'll add a note to that effect.

JS

March 1, 2012
4:51 am
Sean
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Before reading this recipe I made gravlax using the 50/50 salt/sugar recipe and was pretty liberal with the amounts. It turned out great but the surface was burnt by the salt, so looking forward to trying this. I fish for salmon in Scotland and many visiting anglers from Scandinavia gravlax their catch. The worm thing is a worry but it doesnt seem to stop folk gravlaxing fresh wild salmon. I read up on this and farmed salmon are not a risk in this regard according to government advice.
An earlier writer above tried to persuade people not to buy farmed salmon because its not as good as wild. I agree however farmed salmon plays an important role in taking pressure off wild salmon which itself is an unsustainable resource which should not be harvested for commercial reasons. For more info visit the North Atlantic Salmon Fund website.

March 1, 2012
4:45 pm
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Sean:

You're correct.  The trouble is that with seven billion people in the world, everything is unsustainable

Let me know how the recipe works for you!

JS

March 5, 2012
12:11 pm
Bill Gronke
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Tried your recipe a couple of times. I like the sugar salt proportions very much. I also liked the time factor. Other recipes call for it to cure longer. I did substitute the limes with a spinkling of Absolute. Wraping it in plastic wrap and then Vacu sealing it in a food saver eliminates the turning and of course it doesn't leak. The cure is pressed in with a nice equal pressure. Next time I am going to try the limes.

March 5, 2012
2:25 pm
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Gnoll
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Good call on the Absolut!

I've used Akvavit before which itself is often infused with dill, caraway and fennel. The Swedes get a little shy about Akvavit, although they have some excellent varieties. The Danes seem more proud, but it's all Scandinavian ... fish, cured with something or other and then human cured with schnapps 😀

Living in the Ice Age
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March 5, 2012
2:48 pm
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Bill:

I'm glad it works for you!  Vacuum sealing would indeed save some time and effort.

Paul:

I've had some gravlax that used fresh juniper berries in addition to the lime.  It was delicious!

And yes, I think every European country that has salmon, an ocean, and cold weather has its own variant of gravlax.

JS

March 5, 2012
3:02 pm
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Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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I may have told this story, but one of the most memorable experiences I hold dear is walking downstairs into the indoor part of the Hötorget (Hay Market) in Stockholm to be met by an almost endless set of stalls selling gravad lax and crayfish.

Nothing like a bag of crayfish, exit the market, eat like a tramp under a statue of Neptune, burp, wipe face, chuck bag of shells in the bin and then tuck into a few slices of cured salmon while walking through to Gamla Stan and the Ardbeg Rooms for a good local pint (with greasy salmon fingers) and slug of something Scotch! Damn it! I love Stockholm.

You know what, J? I've still to make up your recipe. I'll grab some good salmon soon and do this.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

March 13, 2012
10:35 am
Cody LeChat
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A variation that I have used for several years, courtesy of New York Times Sunday Magazine, is to add about a tablespoon of ground dried juniper berries as well as ground black pepper corns. A splash of gin on the cut slices adds a bit of extra flavor. Always a hit at holiday parties.

March 15, 2012
8:32 pm
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Cody:

That sounds properly festive!  I find it pays to be cautious with the juniper berries, though.

JS

March 25, 2012
12:01 pm
N. Lebo
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I just tried your recipe using a 1 lb 1 oz size filet and follow your recipe. 51 hrs later I removed the various ingredients ( dill, lime zest, cracked pepper, salt sugar)--it was a disaster! The "gravlax" was only slightly less raw than before the curing. I had my doubts about curing with using only 2 1/2 tsp of salt but I decided to go along with your calibrations and followed everything else exactly as you recommended. I did mix the dill and lime zest together and mixed them into the dry mix (salt & sugar) even added about 1 TBS of vodka.

I have made gravlax many times before using 1/2 cup kosher salt; 1/4 cup sugar; lemon, lime and orange zests; 1/4 cup chopped dill; 3 TBS of vodka and wrapping in 2 layers of plastic wrap and topping with a plastic wrapped brick. I did not make a sandwich but rather wrapped the whole filet in plastic to ensure the liquid would drain out into a large sized baking tray (able to fit into refrigerator). No acid burning marks or other problems with the filet.

Am really disappointed and sorry this effort did not work out. Am going to try again later this week and will revert to my time tested recipe.

It is not my recipe so I must give credit to Emeril Lagasse when he hosted "Essence of Emeril"on the TV Food Network many years ago.

March 25, 2012
2:13 pm
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N. Lebo:

I'm sorry it didn't work for you!  You're the first to report a problem, so let me ask a question.

You said: "I did not make a sandwich but rather wrapped the whole filet in plastic to ensure the liquid would drain out into a large sized baking tray (able to fit into refrigerator)."  Does that refer to your usual recipe, or did you use that technique for this one?  

Because that would explain the problem: if you let the liquid drain out, it'll take the salt and sugar with it -- and you'll end up with mostly-raw fish.  

Whatever wrapping technique you use, you'll want to make sure it's as water-tight as possible (although there will almost always be a little bit of leakage unless you have a vacuum sealer).  That's why I specify wrapping three times as tightly as you can.  Furthermore, if you only have one filet (i.e. you don't have enough fish to make a sandwich), it's absolutely critical to flip it at least every 12 hours, more often if possible -- because the salt/sugar liquid will tend to sit on the bottom of the package, where it won't cure the fish.  

There is also the possibility that you simply like a much harder, saltier cure: 1/2 cup of salt and 1/4 cup of sugar will result in some VERY hard gravlax.  That's not how I like mine, but I won't dissuade anyone else from making theirs however they like it best.

JS

March 29, 2012
8:51 am
NLebo
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I was referring to my "original" recipe. I followed your recipe for the most part; wrapping the sandwich filet in three layers of plastic wrap as tightly as possible. I did, however, place a brick (in plastic wrap) on top and flipped the salmon every 12 hours. I used fine Kosher salt instead of sea salt.

I plan on doing another gravlax this coming weekend--using your recipe and another using my "original" and will compare the results. Will let you know. I am "psyched" to get your recipe to succeed for me!

JS, thanks for your feedback.

March 29, 2012
6:44 pm
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N. Lebo:

In that case, I suspect that you may simply prefer a harder cure.  Feel free to use this technique with more salt and/or sugar.  Also, if two days pass and the fish is still too soft for your tastes, you can always add more salt/sugar, rewrap it, and cure it another two days!  It lasts me about a week in the fridge if the fish was fresh to start with, so you'll still have a few days to eat it.

Some people do like harder, saltier gravlax -- particularly if they're serving it traditionally, on crisp bread with dill sauce, at which point it's more of a condiment for the bread than a main dish.  However, since I'm eating it by itself, as a meal, I prefer it to be both softer and less salty...I couldn't eat over a pound of it otherwise!

Something that helps the cure distribute more evenly is to put much more of it on the thick parts of the filets.  As I said to Es above, "The reason I only pile the salt/sugar in the center is because it diffuses slowly throughout the meat as the cure progresses.  When I distribute it evenly over the surface, the (thinner) edges become hard and crusty while the (thicker) center is still soft and raw."  Did you find that the edges were OK but the center was raw, or did you find the whole thing too raw for your taste?

JS

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