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Apr 13, 2010 08:36 AM

Help! Gravlax tastes like sugar- can I salvage it?

I used this recipe:

I just tasted it today and it tastes like candy salmon. The first flavor I get is overwhelming sugar, then overwhelming salt, and at a distant third the flavor of salmon. The texture is all right, but the overall verdict is YUCK.

I don't want 20 euros of salmon to go to waste... is there any way to lessen the flavor of sugar? Soaking it in water maybe?

Have a dinner party tomorrow where the salmon was promised. I'd be grateful for any help!

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  1. Soak in water for about twenty minutes, drain, rinse, and soak again in fresh water. Do that several times until you achieve the balance you're hoping for. Be sure to wipe the surface during each rinse cycle (using a hand in a wiping motion should be enough) to eliminate as much of the surface sugar/salt as possible.
    With ingredients like honey mustard and sugar, you can bet that Gravlax is, unfortunately, candied salmon.

    2 Replies
    1. re: todao

      Agreed. Soak, rinse, pray, and repeat. Sometimes the very surface of the gravlax will be more concentrated in sugar and salt taste than the rest of the fish and you can thinly shave it off, but I suspect that after 36 hours that won't be the case.

      I typically cure with about a 50/50 mixture of salt and sugar and I usually don't cure for anywhere near 36 hours - usually a bit under 24 for me, depending on thickness and how it's coming along. In the future, the OP might like something more like this given his/her dissatisfaction with the nymag recipe.

      1. re: cowboyardee

        Hi guys, thanks so much for the help! I took your advice and soaked it for 20 minutes and dried it really thoroughly. The taste is so, so much better now. I actually want to go get it out of the fridge and eat the rest.
        Next time I'm definitely doing a shorter cure with equal parts of salt + sugar.

    2. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup kosher salt to 1 cup sugar. Duh...that is a ratio of 1 part salt (kosher is 1/2 the strength of regular salt) to 4 parts sugar. Of course it will be too sweet, especially if you don't rinse it.

      5 Replies
      1. re: OldTimer

        First time curing salmon, trusted the source (Aquavit and nymag)... don't really think it's a case of 'duh.'

        1. re: sufunsified

          Don't feel bad. Failed experiments make for the best experience.

          How is it now that you've soaked it? As delicious as you feel gravlax should be? Even more so? If so, the experiment might not even be a failure, but a grand success.

          You've got me wondering - what if I cured it longer and more thoroughly than usual and then soaked it? Might be a cool effect in its own right - a denser texture than my less-cured version without an over-cured taste? I might give it a try with a small piece of salmon soon.

          1. re: cowboyardee

            "I typically cure with about a 50/50 mixture of salt and sugar and I usually don't cure for anywhere near 36 hours - usually a bit under 24 for me, depending on thickness and how it's coming along."

            Me too!

            I've found that with various Pacific Salmon 20 hours is just about right.

            Remember too that Gravlax can be cooked briefly on a smoky BBQ for something unique.

            1. re: Sam Salmon

              My first attempt at Gravlax with a 40/60 salt to sugar mix also came out a bit too sweet for my taste. Not wanting to waste 2 pounds of perfectly good salmon, I rinsed it several times and then pan-fried it in dill butter. Yum!

              Still a bit not what I expected, but after cooking it was more along a savory-sweetness, akin to teriyaki.

        2. re: OldTimer

          OldTimers should know better...

          "Kosher salt takes its name from its use in the koshering process. It contains no preservatives and can be derived from either seawater or underground sources. Aside from being a great salt to keep within arm's reach when you are cooking, it is particularly useful in preserving, because its large crystals draw moisture out of meats and other foods more effectively than other salts."

          Or check out

          Salt = salt