A Scandinavian dish, gravlax is often confused with smoked salmon. While salmon is commonly used for both dishes, smoked salmon is cured and then smoked (either hot or cold) while gravlax is cold cured in salt, sugar and aromatics.
Gravlax has been around since the middle ages, the name translating to grav meaning grave or hole in the ground, and lax (or laks) translating to salmon. The name derives from the unique method of curing, where salmon was salted and cured by burying it in the sand above the high tide line.
Today however, gravlax is cured by ‘burying’ the salmon in a salt and sugar marinade and leaving it for a few days. Gravlax as apposed to smoked salmon is delicate in flavour and texture, beautifully balanced by the marinade and natural flavours from the fish.
500g coarse sea salt
60ml gin (or vodka)
1/2 cup dill, finely chopped
2 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed
1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 kilo salmon fillet, skin on and pin boned
In a bowl mix together salt, sugar, juniper berries, pepper orange zest and gin. Lay out cling film, enough to wrap the fillet in, and sprinkle with half the salt mixture.
Sprinkle half the dill on top of the salt and lay the fish skin side down. Sprinkle the rest of the dill over the fish and cover with the salt mixture.
Wrap the fish tightly and place in a deep roasting tray and cover with a smaller tray. Weigh down the fish with bricks or tins and marinade in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before turning the fish over and weighing it down again.
Cure the salmon for 24 – 36 hours (the longer you cure the salmon for the finer the flavour and texture will be).
To serve unwrap and scrape away the curing mixture, making sure to pat the fish dry with absorbent paper. Using a sharp knife slice the gravlax at 45° angle into slices.
Gravlax will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.