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Homemade Gravlax

Homemade Gravlax with Pink Peppercorns and Dill

Gravlax is usually one of those “special occasion only” type of things.

Like Easter sunday. Or the rare brunch out. Or visiting grandma.

Grandma would always have a fresh package of lox waiting for me, to be draped on top of a toasted bagel with a smear of cream cheese.

Visiting grandma, every morning was like Sunday brunch.

Homemade Gravlax with Pink Peppercorns and Dill

I guess I never realized before that lox was something you can easily make at home. (Gravlax, of course, not to be confused with Nova lox which is cold smoked, that might be a bit harder to reproduce at home). Gravlax is the traditional cured salmon, the name literally means “grave salmon”, as fishermen would bury their catch in the sand just above the high-tide line. The salt in the sand would cure and preserve the salmon.

We can replicate this process at home by “burying” the salmon in a mixture of kosher salt, sugar, and herbs and spices. Dill is pretty common, and I admit that as a self-described dill hater, this is one of the few situations where it is acceptable to use the pungent herb. Use it quickly though, as even a day in the crisper will give your strawberries and lettuce an unmistakable eau-de-dill. Gross.

The recipe we followed called for white peppercorns, fennel, and caraway. White peppercorns not being something we had on hand, we swapped in some pink peppercorns we had picked up a while back and had yet to use. We also used a splash of gin, thinking the juniper flavor would pair nicely with the dill. But you can use aquavit (as called for in the original), I’ve also seen it done with whiskey. That’s next on our list to try.

Home Cured Gravlax with Pink Peppercorns and Dill

The result?

Let’s just say grandma would be proud.

Homemade gravlax can only be described as buttery. Ever so sweet and buttery. A bit on the salty side, so it’s best enjoyed with accompaniments like crackers and goat cheese. For a few days and less than $10 investment, we have ourselves one beautiful hunk of gravlax. For that price, it’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy it for breakfast or lunch any old day, not just the special ones. Though a treat like this is enough to turn a normal day into a special one.

Homemade Gravlax

Yield: 8-10 servings

Total Time: 72 hours

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons pink or white peppercorns
1 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2/3 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
2-lb. center-cut, skin-on salmon filet
1 cup dill sprigs, plus 1/3 cup chopped dill
1?4 cup gin or aquavit (optional)

Directions:

In a small food processor, pulse peppercorns, fennel seeds, and caraway seeds until coarsely ground; combine with salt and sugar. Spread out one large piece of plastic wrap; sprinkle with half the salt mixture. Place salmon filet on top, skin side down. Cover with remaining salt mixture, dill sprigs, and gin. You want to be sure the entire fillet is covered.

Fold plastic around salmon; wrap tightly with more plastic wrap. Place the fish in a dish and refrigerate for 48–72 hours, flipping the packet every 12 hours. When fully cured, the gravlax will darken in color and be firm to the touch at the thickest part.

Unwrap salmon, discarding the spices, dill, and brine. Rinse the filet under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.

Place gravlax skin side down on a cutting board. With a long, narrow-bladed knife, slice gravlax against grain, on the diagonal, into thin pieces. Refrigerate any remaining gravlax, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe from Saveur.

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35 CommentsLeave a Comment →

  1. 1
    Posted On April 6, 2012 at 9:10 am

    this requires a trip to whole foods, thanks for the inspiration! love the gravlax at ikea (hahah oh man, coolest kid ever) and i’ve always wanted to make it myself!

    Reply

  2. 2
    Posted On April 6, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Oh wow, this looks so yummy! I never thought of making it at home, but I think I’ll have to give it a try

    Reply

  3. 3
    Posted On April 6, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Great recipe!! I can see this on my bagels with cream cheese!! yum!

    Reply

  4. 4
    Tina Maloney
    Posted On April 6, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! Thanks so much for posting.

    Reply

  5. 5
    Posted On April 6, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Mmmm, I love gravlax, it’s one of our Christmas traditionals in Germany. I had no idea you could make it at home fairly easily! :)

    Reply

  6. 6
    Posted On April 6, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Lindsay the pictures are just STUNNING! So delicate and gorgeous and my husband would kiss my feet if I made homemade grav lox for him…wow, that’s the way to his heart quicker than you can say Jewish Deli :)

    Reply

  7. 7
    Posted On April 6, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I think I love gravlax even more than smoked salmon, but haven’t tried making it at home yet. Your pictures make it look BEAUTIFUL!

    Reply

  8. 8
    Posted On April 6, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Really beautiful! I’ve been meaning to try making gravlax since I saw Ina Garten make some, and yours looks just as good! I totally agree about dill, by the way!

    Reply

  9. 9
    Adrienne
    Posted On April 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I’m excited to try this. Looks delicious! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  10. 10
    Posted On April 6, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Hey Lindsay, I just recently made gravlax myself for the first time. I made it in a similar way you did. Just as you said your grandma would be proud of you, I was so proud of myself when I was tasting the result. I love the way you served it on the little crackers! That is such a great appetizer!! Beautiful photos! Happy Easter to you and Taylor!

    Reply

  11. 11
    Posted On April 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Wow, so it’s never cooked? It sounds so good. I had no idea it was so easy!

    Reply

  12. 12
    Sweetsugarbelle
    Posted On April 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Wow!!!

    Reply

  13. 13
    Posted On April 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    mmmm….look at all that dill! From your instructions, I can see how this would be a “special occasion” only dish, although I would love to prepare salmon using your methodology all the time. Great Easter appetizer! Have a great weekend!

    Reply

  14. 14
    Posted On April 6, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    My dad always makes these around the holidays and they are such a decidant treat! Apparently they are very popular in Poland (where my family is from)! Your recipe is a bit different then ours though, so I’m excited to give yours a try! Great post and thanks for the recipe.

    Reply

  15. 15
    Julia C
    Posted On April 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Being from Europe, where smoked fish is a huge part of your diet, this makes me very happy.

    Reply

  16. 16
    Posted On April 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    This has just been added to my “to do” list. Thank you!

    Reply

  17. 17
    eileen
    Posted On April 8, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Visiting from a link from smiten kitchen. This looks great and I am going to make it next weekend. I am not a dill “hater”, but I don’t like my strawberries to taste like dill either. I put almost all fresh herbs I buy in a glass of water and then cover it with the plastic veggie bag I brought it home from the store in. I sometimes twist the bag under the cup, or not. The smell stays contained within the cup and bag. Also, the herbs lasts longer than if I just put it in the fridge as is or wrapped in a wet paper towel. I have heard others say what you said about dill. Just wondering if you store it differently.

    Reply

  18. 18
    Posted On April 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    I haven’t thought of Gravlax for a long time. I made it a few times for photo shoots and each time it was delicious. Your recipe looks very easy and this reminds me I should make this soon.

    Reply

  19. 19
    Posted On April 9, 2012 at 7:54 am

    I’ve never heard of gravlax before…very intriguing and looks great!

    Reply

  20. 20
    Posted On April 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Great recipes! Feel free to check out mine :)

    Reply

  21. 21
    Posted On April 9, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    How beautiful! It’s funny – this reminds me of my Grandma, too. I’d love to make it for her. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply

  22. 22
    Posted On April 10, 2012 at 6:52 am

    I have wanted to make gravlax so I can’t wait to try it…yours here looks really delicious!

    Reply

  23. 23
    Posted On April 13, 2012 at 12:48 am

    Great post. Will have to try this. You’ve inspired me. Lovely photography too!

    Reply

  24. 24
    Posted On April 14, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Pretty photography, recipe looks cool – any french translations? I can’t understand what gravlax is…

    Reply

  25. 25
    Posted On April 18, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Amazing! I had no idea it could be so simple… this is definitely in my future.

    Question: Is the caraway quite noticeable? I cannot say I’m a fan of it…

    Reply

    • Posted On April 18, 2012 at 10:03 pm

      It wasn’t. I think the dill overpowered pretty much everything else. But this recipe would be totally flexible if you wanted to mix up the spices!

  26. 26
    Posted On April 19, 2012 at 11:58 am

    It’s my first time hearing about Gravlax but I’ve seen in TV how they make just didn’t knew the term. It’s quiet interesting and I really want to try and make it.

    When buying the salmon, any regular salmon will do? Should it be sushi grade? I’m not a caraway nor fennel fan but I’ve read the previous comment that dill overpowered everything…i love dill. I will try this for sure, thank you for sharing!

    Reply

  27. 27
    Rosabel
    Posted On April 20, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    mmmmm! This looks really good! Being from Montreal, I always add some spices made of maple syrup in any recipe that includes fish or seafood. I especially use my favorite one, the ROUGE Maple seasonning. It makes meals even more tasty!
    The spice is only available online and is made of Pure Organic Maple Syrup, which is even better!
    I will definitely try this one out!
    Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply

  28. 28
    amy
    Posted On April 21, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    I wo der if you could sub maple sugar for the sugar in the recipe?

    That would be intriguing.

    Reply

  29. 29
    Posted On April 30, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    I did made the gravlax a week ago, now its about 1/4 left my husband loves it and can’t thank me enough for making it. The caraway and fennel comes through but very subtle, I was looking more for the dill. Like I said in my previous comment we love dill but over-all it turned out better than I expected. I will be making more of this in the future. Thank you for sharing! Here’s a link of my version:

    http://enjoywithjoy.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/homemade-gravlax/

    Reply

  30. 30
    Posted On May 2, 2012 at 11:25 am

    My husband made gravlax from your recipe this weekend! It’s delicious! and so pretty!

    Reply

  31. 31
    Posted On May 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    this is completely brilliant.

    Reply

  32. 32
    Bobo
    Posted On July 24, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Trying this recipe right now. I was wonderig if youve trued freezing it as my friend mentioned a similar recipe which after fridge time, he vacuum seals and freezes. One day I saw he even packed the the fish with similar ingredients and froze the whole fish.

    Going to try some of his tomorrow… he says it’s great!?!? With this fine recipe I have yet another great way to prepare the tons of salmon we catch each year! Thanks so much.

    Reply

  33. 33
    abmri60
    Posted On December 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I do this with a whole salmon that is gutted.
    Stuff the inside of the salmon with the same ingredients, wrap in clear wrap as tight as you can and put heavy brigs covered in foil on top.
    Rotate every 12 hrs for 3 days.

    Reply

  34. 34
    Amanda
    Posted On January 15, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Is it left w/ a very caraway/fennel-y flavor? Looking at trying my hand at gravlax :) Thanks!

    Reply

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