Making gravad lax or cured salmon, is an annual tradition in our household. Salmon in itself is an extremely flavourful fish, the reason for as little herbs and spices used as possible for curing. As with years past, what you´ll need to find is an excellent piece of salmon.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

The Nordic oceans are renowned to produce meaty, flavourful fish such as cod, monkfish, saithe and salmon. These fish are delicious mostly on their own, and need very little herbs and spices to bring out their flavours. I like to pan-fry or lightly grill cod and salmon in a bit of butter, with salt and pepper to taste. But at year´s end, we often go with historical Nordic culinary traditions, where fish and meat are preserved by drying, salting or smoking.

The making of gravad lax or cured salmon is a festive activity for the Styrsö household. On this website, you’ll find a sprinkling of references to gravad lax and how to make it:

Gravad lax 2010
Gravad lax 2013
Gravad lax 2016

The gravad lax recipe that we follow is uncomplicated, and is for keeps. From the 2010 text:

Gravlax – Salt, sugar and dill cured salmon

What you need in order to make this cured salmon dish is basically a really fresh piece of salmon, a fridge, fresh dill and a heavy weight of about 3-4 lbs / 1-2 kg. Hygiene is of utmost importance and some will recommend that you deep freeze in particular any wild caught salmon to sterilize it.

1 kg fresh salmon, preferably the mid part.
1-2 large bunches of dill
4 tbs sugar
1,4 tbs freshly crushed white pepper
3-4 tbs salt

Remove scales, wipe the fish dry but don’t rinse it. Turn the fish into two fillets. Pull out all bones with a tweezer or a Flat Nose Plier. Mix sugar, salt and white pepper and rub the salmon fillets generously in this.

This year we tried a vacuum sealer instead of weighting down the salmon, but my impression is that nothing beats time, a little bit of air and a canon ball, to make the pickling and flavour spread evenly in the fish. The process of meat curing and maturing, by definition, takes time.

From 2010, some gravad lax on vörtbröd or Swedish Christmas dark beer flavoured bread.

Gravad lax at the Styrsö julbord 2020.