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Homemade gravlax

Posted in Food & Entertaining

Lox, gravlax and smoked salmon are as much a staple in my house as pasta and rice. In the morning, on bagels, for breakfast; added to omelettes, salads or served as an appetizer with pumpernickel at lunch or dinner or, probably my favorite use, on pasta with just some butter, lemon and pepper.

If you have ever wondered what the difference between the three is, here is a quick primer:

Lox (from the Yiddish laks) is never cooked but cured with salt. Typically, it’s the belly of the salmon;

Gravlax, which originates in Scandinavia, is made with the same salmon belly and it is also cured, with a mixture of salt and sugar and lots of dill;

Smoked salmon is also cured with a salt brine but can be any part of the salmon and, as the name implies, it’s also smoked.

It’s so ridiculously easy to make lox or gravlax that I sometimes wonder why I bother buying the pre-packaged stuff.

Start with a nice piece of salmon. Ask for the belly, skin on. A pound (about 450 g) will get you far and, as an appetizer, will serve  6 to 8 people.

You want to begin the curing process a couple of days before you are planning to serve it.

In a bowl, mix 1/3 cup of kosher salt (or other coarse salt) and about 1/2 cup of sugar. Rub the mixture on both sides of the fish and place it in a baking dish or other flat pan over a bed of dill. Cover it with more dill and place a film of plastic wrap over it, leaving it hanging over the sides. Place a dish on top and some cans to keep the dish pressing down. Refrigerate for 48 hours, turning the fish once or twice each day. Longer than 48 hours will make the fish a bit too dry for my taste.

When ready to serve, remove the dill and rinse the fish under cold water. Pat dry, slice and serve with your favorite condiments.

 

 

 

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7 Comments

  1. I like smoked salmon, but have never taken to lox. I didn’t know the distinction among the three types of fish preparations, but now that I do I think I’ll try gravlax. Also, you’ve decided what we’re having for dinner tonight. Pasta with smoked salmon, it is. Suddenly I have a hankering for it.

    November 9, 2017
    |Reply
    • I love pasta with lox. I don’t use cream: just butter, pepper, lemon zest and a touch of milk to dilute it. You?

      November 10, 2017
      |Reply
      • I quickly saute the smoked salmon in butter/olive oil then I toss in a bit of whipping cream with salt. I like to top the pasta + sauce with chopped parsley. Kind of basic, but satisfying.

        November 10, 2017
        |Reply
  2. Winston Moreton
    Winston Moreton

    Asked daughter about gravlax. She pronouces it the swedish way – sounded like she was talking under water

    November 9, 2017
    |Reply
    • I stick with the American pronunciation – not bit on guttural sounds. Interestingly, just today I read an article on the difficulties the salmon industry in Norway is experiencing. Apparently farmed salmon is not all that is cracked out to be.

      November 10, 2017
      |Reply
  3. Ellie
    Ellie

    Like you I adore salmon in all the ways you describe here. When I first tried it I got the salt wrong!! which is a wrong that can’t be made right unfortunately. I did salvage it by turning it into a thick cream sauce with lots of lemon and parsley on pasta – but despite the camouflage I still knew the balance was wrong. I’ve always been very careful since. When the balance is right Gravlax is simply divine. I’ll use your recipe. By the way, I’m not keen, but what’s your opinion on using vodka as some recipes suggest ?

    November 9, 2017
    |Reply
    • I have made with vodka many times. The end taste is slightly different but very good. I use vodka and dill. Whether you are using vodka (and don’t have to worry about the salt) or salt, always rinse it before serving.

      November 10, 2017
      |Reply

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