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Making my own gravlax?

I have not posted a recipe on this board. Hopefully, I am doing this right. Has anyone made their own gravlax? I plan on using this recipe from Epicurious but many of the reviews offer changes. Thanks!!


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  1. Welcome to the world of gravlax. Jfood loves it.

    Couple of points on the recipe.

    - Why only 1 pound? When jfood makes gravlax he uses a whole side of salmon. After two days he wants lots and lots.
    - Jfood place the side on top of LOTS of paper towels to absorb the juices coming out
    - For the weight, a friend (Berkeley grad so pretty smart) told jfood to buy a big bag of rice, place that on top of the fillet and the the weight on top of that. The rice will distribute the weight more evenly
    - After 24 hours, flip the fish, replace the paper and weights and back in the fridge for another 24.

    After 2 days you should be good to go. BTW Jfood uses like novey on bagels and a shmear as well.

    11 Replies
    1. re: jfood

      jfood! Thanks! Just to clarify...which side on top? Papertowels instead of plastic wrap or underneath it? How would press and seal work? I can grab the bag of rice when I grab some pho for lunch...great idea. One more question..I have access to various types of salmon thanks to Whole Foods. Does one type work better than the other? Can't wait to give this a shot. Will start with one pound in case i screw it up! Thanks again!

      1. re: rHairing

        from bottom up.

        paper towels
        fish (skin side down first)
        saran wrap

        fresh salmon, firm flesh

        1. re: jfood

          Thank you! OK I am off the battle the supermarkets and find our new Penzys market. We are expecting adverse weather here in Northern Virginia. Perfect cooking weather as far as I am concerned! I'll report back!

        2. re: rHairing

          I used to work at a small smoked fish company, we used two sides, flesh on flesh, tip to tail, and personally I found if you can get real scottish salmon or norwegian atlantic salmon, you get a better outcome, wild is always preferable, and tastes better and is better for you. Try many combinations, i've used tequila, aqavit and cachaca. Good luck.

        3. re: jfood

          I have a smallish fridge and make two pounds, cutting the fillet in half and use a pyrex 9x9 pan to cure it. I rub the alcohol and the salt sugar pepper mixture on each half, place one skin side down, put some bunches of dill in the middle, put the other piece flesh side down, cover with more dill, cover with saran wrap and then foil, and use two large cans of tomatoes to weigh it down. I flip the pieces every 8 hours (the first 6 or so on the counter) and 24 hours later - gravlax.

          1. re: MMRuth

            yup the double layer is a great idea.

            since jfood trusts MMRuth, why doe you do the 6-hour on the counter first?

            1. re: jfood

              Because the recipe says to (grin). I'm guessing that the room temperature allows the salt/sugar etc. to make its way more quickly into the fish, before then putting it in the refrigerator.

              This is the recipe I use - from the New Basics, who got it from Cafe des Artistes (site of first date w/ Mr. MMRuth, so fond memories as well!):


              1. re: MMRuth

                The Cafe des Artistes Gravlax is the absolute best! The Mustard Dill Sauce that accompanies it is fabulous, and very easy.

                The only suggestion I would make about Gravlax is to use fresh Wild Salmon, gotten from a very reliable Fishmonger.

                All Salmon was Wild when George Lang of Cafe des Artistes invented the recipe, and farmed Salmon is too mushy and blah to bother with.

                1. re: Fleur

                  I always tell the fishmonger that I'm going to use the salmon for sushi. And I sure agree, you definitely don't want farmed Salmon.

                  1. re: Fleur

                    Does anyone have the recipe for the Cafe des Artistes Mustard Sauce? I searched for it, but with no success. Thanks!

                    I'm not really happy with the one I've been using.

                    1. re: Carole

                      I'll post it - kept meaning to do it before.

                      1.5 T white wine vinegar
                      1.75 T sugar
                      1/2 cup olive oil
                      5-6 T dijon mustard
                      1 T chopped fresh dill (I think I usually put in more)
                      1 heaping T freshly ground white pepper

                      Whisk sugar and vinegar until sugar dissolves. Add olive oil slowly and whisk until incorporated. Add mustard, dill and pepper. Refrigerate.

          2. I have done small quantities and even a single fillet or side. I use equal parts sugar to salt, fresh herbs to you liking. Wrapped in plastic wrap and weighted. The smaller fillets will not take much longer than 24-48hrs to cure. Any more than that and it gets too dried out.

            1. Gravlax became one of my favorite foods after eating it at my cousin's house who lives close to the Baltic Sea (he has a recipe from his chef friend and owner of a great seafood restaurant in Gdansk).
              I make it a few times a year, but always for Christmas Eve. In this recipe you have only pepper, salt, sugar and dill. And the way they serve it is a bit different- a big leaf of a butter lettuce topped with a few very thin slices of gravlax, a slice of onion and a dollop of sauce, that is a combination of mayo, sour cream, lemon juice salt, sugar, pepper and fresh dill. And a piece of a good rye bread. Yum.....

              1. First, I buy a whole salmon, not too big, and have it fileted out with the skin left on. When I get it home I take the pin bones out (needlenose pliers) and wipe the flesh side of the fish with damp paper towels. Then I mix equal parts of kosher salt and sugar, and add some ground white pepper. Then I take a glass 13 x 9 baking pan and lay down a whole lot of dill. I put one of the salmon filets on the dill, and cover it with a lot of the salt/sugar/pepper mix. Then I put a whole lot more dill on top of that. Then I put salt/sugar/pepper mix on the other filet, and put that filet on top of the first one, skin side up, facing the other way (i.e., head end to tail end). Then I put a lot more dill on top, and if I have any salt/sugar/pepper left I sprinkle it over the whole thing. Then I put a piece of plastic wrap on top of the whole thing, and put another 13 x 9 pan on it (no need for glass for this one), and wrap it all up in bungee cords to press it -- 2 small bungees in each direction. I refrigerate it for a couple of days, taking the bungees off and pouring off the accumulated liquid morning and night, then replacing the bungees. After the couple of days, I throw away everything but the salmon -- by now cured and compressed down to half or less of its original thickness -- wash the salmon, and slice it at an extreme angle with a long, very sharp knife into thin slices. I serve it on little slices of dark bread (so-called "cocktail pumpernickel") with an emulsified sauce made of sweet mustard, Dijon mustard, olive oil, and more dill.

                Writing this down makes me want some NOW. If there is dill at the farmers market tomorrow, I'm gonna make me some.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ozhead

                  Good point about removing the bones.

                  1. re: ozhead

                    Ozhead, your recipe sounds closest to mine, which is from the Aquavit cookbook. It is heavenly. I add a little expresso to the mustard dill sauce.

                  2. I made some about a year ago and learned some things: Try to get salmon that is the same thickness all the way across. The thinner ends (I used filets) got really, really salty and almost (I say almost since I love salt) inedible. I used white wine and cognac, crushed black peppercorns, salt, sugar and dill (based on a recipe from my mom's cousin who lives in Bjerkvik in northern Norway). That was all I used. I made up my own amounts of everything (lots of dill, tho). It came out really good. REALLY REALLY GOOD! I rinsed it after the brining and patted it dry. And so easy!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: WildSwede

                      I agree about the thickness - I try to get a center cut - or if I end up with some thin bits, I cut them off and make a quick salmon tartare.

                    2. Here's my Canadian gravalax recipe.
                      That weighting tip with the rice is great.

                      Maple Gravlax

                      One side of organic salmon- skin on
                      wash and cover in 2-3 oz. vodka

                      mix together
                      2 cups Kosher salt
                      1 cup sugar
                      some anise seed, fennel seed, chilli flakes, pepper corns
                      crush 4 cloves of garlic - don't cut up

                      cover salmon with mixture
                      douse salmon in 2 or so cups of maple syrup- it should be wet
                      cover and put in fridge
                      check 24 hours later - add another cup or so of maple syrup if necessary
                      leave for another 24 hours. --then scrape off all salt and spices, rise in
                      water gently (can leave the odd spice here or there)
                      slice and serve with a drizzle of maple --- shelf life isn't great.
                      use it or freeze it within 3 days.

                      1. Well, I promised I would report back. I'm not happy with the way it came out but looking at some of the posts after I tried it, I think I will try again. I didn't care for the spicing. I think I am going to stick to salt pepper sugar and dill. The consistent thickness was also an issue. Even distibution of the spicing was also an issue. I think i almost need to try a "shake and bake" approach to evenly coat everything. I am getting ready to travel for the holidays but will try again when I get back. I think once I find what works for me, it should not be that difficult! Thanks All and happy holidays!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: rHairing

                          I put it in a large sealed container and turn it over a couple of times while it's in the fridge. That may help. Be careful not to do too long either. It can really cause the thinner ends to become too hard and salty. (BTW, I use those too-done ends chopped up as garnishes for soup.)

                          1. re: rHairing

                            Make more spice mixture. You need to really pour it on and cover the flesh with it. I can't imagine enough sticking using a shake and bake method.

                          2. A small but useful tip -- wrap the fillet in a couple of layers of cheese cloth first -- the seasoning will penetrate the cheese cloth but makes it much easier to get off the spices when you're done curing.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Richard 16

                              Washing them off works pretty well, too.

                            2. Hi RH,

                              I love making and eating gravlax . . . the recipe I use.. uses Gin as the alcohol and I sandwich both sides together with the dill and the salt/sugar mixture in the middle (I also use alot of black pepper in this mixture) . . . and for a twist and to compliment the gin...I crush about 8-10 juniper berries and mix it into the sugar mixture (they delicately flavor to the salmon) . . I then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and weight it down . . . Everyone who has tasted it loves it and it is fool proof . . . the key is to make sure you have enough sugar/salt mixture...you also need to bone the same first and slice it very thinly . . . I serve mine with capers, thinly sliced red onion and fresh dill with a little fresh lemon juice sprinkled over it...



                              P.S. I flip mine after 1 day then cure it for another whole day...If you went a 3rd day it would be good as well but will get a little jerky like on the edges (I don't mind these pieces) Ideally 2 days will suffice


                              1. I've been making a LOT of gravlax this summer for some reason, and am experimenting with different methods. A few questions for the experts:

                                1. For those of you using rice, how many pounds of rice do you use? My two pound bags seem a little dinky on my two one-pound filets, pressed using the double layer method. (However a bag of rice with a big bottle of whiskey balanced on top seems to work well.)

                                2. What do you do with the goop that results when you use sugar in the cure? I've seen some recipes that say to dab or drain it off. Others don't mention the goop, so perhaps the assumption is that you just leave it there. Is it ok to just leave the salmon in the goop until it's done curing?

                                3. MMRuth, Mila and snackboy's recipes include alcohol, which aren't used in probably half of the recipes I've seen and tried. What role does the alcohol play in the curing process? (I'm wondering, in particular, whether it's important if one is to leave the fish out on the counter for the first six hours of curing.) Does it just help the flavors absorb into the fish by drawing water out of the fish?

                                4. What interesting additions have you used? I usually make the old standard using salt, dill, pepper and usually sugar, which I really enjoy. But recently, I've been adding ground juniper berries because I have a big bottle I bought last year for my T-giving brine that has barely seen the light of day, since. Do you think cumin seeds, for instance, would be too weird? Is allspice unthinkable?

                                5. How long does cured salmon (let's assume the standard salt/sugar/dill/pepper cure) stay good for in the refrigerator, after curing?