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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37 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. 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!

  2. 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

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

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

  5. 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! :)

  6. 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 :)

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

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

  10. 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!

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

  12. Wow!!!

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

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

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

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

  20. Great recipes! Feel free to check out mine :)

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

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

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

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

  25. 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…

    • 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. 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!

  27. 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!

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

    That would be intriguing.

  29. 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/

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

  31. this is completely brilliant.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

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

  35. Hello:
    Can this be made without alcohol?

  36. how fresh does the salmon have to be? Can I use a whole salmon that I have in the freeZer? Thank you, my Father was Jewish, and my ‘Poppi’ had a deli, so I grew up with lox, ;-)
    I used to live in Sweden and fell in Love with gravlax, ;-)

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