Gravad Lax, or gravlax, is Scandinavian cured salmon. It very closely resembles lox in flavor and texture but not in effort to prepare. While Lox is cured and then cold-smoked Gravlax is merely cured. Cold-smoking requires a smoker, and frequent monitoring depending on how sophisticated your smoker is. It's a satisfying project but will keep you home all day. Gravlax on the other hand is almost effortless. She only requires 10 minutes of active time from you. The curing process is 48 hours but you aren't really involved in this process. She's got this.
Swedes enjoy their gravlax on crisp bread with mustard sauce and for dinner with salad and boiled potatoes. But gravlax can also step in wherever lox works and add her own spin to your familiar favorites. In the photo below you'll see I've served it with bagel crostini, mustard butter, and lemon pepper cream cheese, a sort of homage to Sweden and New York, both places I used to call home.
For this recipe you will need high quality wild salmon. I've used Chinook (Spring) and Coho (Silver) and both worked well. I will say I slightly prefered the results better with coho because the texture holds up a little better. I've also used wild arctic char with great results.
A note on tradition: you'll see that I've listed some ingredients as optional. While juniper and horseradish are traditionally optional, dill and white pepper are not. If you want to make proper Scandinavian gravlax use white pepper and dill. However if you are trying to simulate a more lox-like experience, or if you prefer vanilla to rocky road, then you might like to try it with just salt and sugar. The flavor of the salmon really stands out with this variation, making it my favorite route.
If you try this I'd love to hear how it goes! Happy New Year!
3 pounds of salmon in 1 lbs filets, or left whole. Bones removed, skin on.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 Tablespoons white or black pepper optional
2 bunches fresh dill, coarsely chopped optional
2 teaspoons juniper berries or prepared horseradish optional