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Gravlax (Norway)


Gravlax is a magical form of salmon: cold-cured rather than smoked, and entirely able to be made at home. All you need is 3 pounds (1.5 kg) of fresh high-quality salmon, a refrigerator, and time.  Three days, in fact.  But once it's done, all smooth and buttery, you'll be happy you waited.

The key is to wrap the salmon extremely tightly so no air can get in and no liquid can get out.  And weigh it down in the fridge - that will help force the cure into the fish.  Traditionally, it's great with pumpernickel and a mustard-dill sauce, but it also works great as a lox substitute on bagels.

Makes twelve servings


  • 1 bunch dill, roughly chopped, plus sprigs for serving

  • zest from 3 lemons

  • 1¼ cups kosher salt

  • 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar

  • 1 Tbsp. cracked black peppercorns

  • 3-pound (1.5 kg) boned salmon, skin on


  1. Unless you're really good at boning a fish, have your local fishmonger bone a 3 pound side of salmon, keeping the skin on.  Stay away from the tail, as there's not enough meat there.

  2. Finely grate lemon zest directly into a medium bowl; save fruit for another use. Add dill, salt, brown sugar, and peppercorns and mix until combined.  This is the "cure."

  3. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Pour one-third of cure lengthwise down the center of parchment.

  4. Lay salmon skin side down on top of cure and pack remaining cure in an even layer onto flesh side. 

  5. Fold parchment up and over fish and cover with another sheet of parchment paper. Wrap tightly with plastic, and replace onto the baking sheet.

  6. Place another large rimmed baking sheet on top of fish and set a heavy pot or cast-iron skillet in baking sheet to weigh down. Chill 3 days.

  7. Unpack fish and wipe off cure with a damp kitchen towel (do not rinse). Make sure fish is cold.

  8. Slice very thinly with a long, thin, VERY sharp knife, wiping down blade occasionally with another kitchen towel to keep it clean. Slice at a 45-degree angle until you get wide ribbons (the first few won't be perfect—keep trying! Cutting the salmon is definitely the hardest part).

  9. Arrange salmon on a platter; serve with bagels, pumpernickel bread, dill sprigs, lemon wedges, or a traditional mustard sauce, if desired.


Recipe adapted from


Photo by Miia Ranta

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