If you’re in the mood for something fresh, light and easy to make, this classic Scandinavian recipe from Norway and Sweden is a no-brainer. Perfect if you’re a seafood lover.
For the salmon:
1 kg fillet of salmon (with skin on and pin bones removed)
⅓ cup of sugar (75 g)
⅓ cup of salt (75 g)
1 tsp of ground black pepper
½ cup of finely chopped dill
2 tbsp of akvavit or brandy
For the sauce:
¼ cup of Dijon mustard
2 tbsp of sugar
2 tbsp of white wine vinegar
¼ cup of chopped dill
⅓ cup of grapeseed oil (80 ml)
You start by seasoning and curing the salmon:
Cut the salmon in half (widthways) so you have two pieces of the same size, then place both halves (skin-side down) on a large piece of plastic wrap.
Mix the sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl.
Scatter the mixture over the flesh of the salmon so it’s covered in a thick layer.
Sprinkle the dill over the fish and top it off with the akvavit or brandy, which you can add in a light scattered layer.
Fold the two salmon pieces together (like a sandwich) so the flesh sides are touching, and the skin is on the outside.
Tightly wrap the fish in a few layers of plastic wrap, pressing firmly to get rid of air.
Place the fish on a tray and refrigerate for at least 48 hours, turning it over every 12 hours (so each side gets weighed down equally).
Next you make the mustard sauce:
Put all the sauce ingredients (except the grapeseed oil) in a bowl and whisk until combined.
Keep whisking and gradually add the grapeseed oil to the mixture until it emulsifies.
When the salmon is ready, you serve them together:
Once cured, you unwrap the salmon, chuck it on a cutting board and wipe off any excess sugar and salt. A paper towel should do the trick.
Lastly, you thinly slice the salmon on an angle (leaving the skin behind) and serve it with the mustard sauce.
Background: Cured salmon
Scandinavia is famous for its cured salmon, and it’s easy to see why, with their seafaring ways going back hundreds of years. In fact, Norway is home to some of the most sought-after salmon world-wide, the Atlantic salmon, known for its fresh taste and exceptional quality.
The name of this Scandinavian recipe—gravlaks (Norwegian), gravadlaks (Danish), gravad lax (Swedish)—literally translates to “Grave Salmon” and has origins dating back to the middle ages. The name comes from the way that fishermen used to preserve the fish — by salting the salmon and then burying it in the sand on the beach to ferment.
As well as working as a light dinner, you can also serve cured salmon (with or without the delicious mustard sauce) as canapés or on open-faced sandwiches.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the multiple spellings — gravlaks, gravad laksand gravad lax are the same thing, but just spelled differently depending on where you are in Scandinavia.
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