Healthy Lunches – Salmon Gravadlax

Salmon Gravadlax

I have developed a healthy obsession, YAY! Normally I get obsessed with chocolate cake or potato fondants or something equally butter laden & unhealthy, but not this time.

I am really into Gravadlax. It is seriously yummy & good for you. Several things have been compelling me to eat it everyday for the last 2 weeks; I have been craving the flavour of dill (no idea why), I am loving uncooked fish at the moment & it is really handy. You can prepare it in minutes & then it lasts for about 2 weeks in the fridge (if you don’t gobble it all down in 3 days) so there is always a yummy snack/lunch on hand.

I decided to share this recipe as part of our healthy lunch series because I think it fits the bill of something which you can prepare on the run in the morning, it doesn’t suffer from time in your lunchbox, it is healthy & fills you up for ages. There is something massively satisfying about the combination of chewy bread, crunchy cucumber or fennel & soft salmon topped off with a generous dollop of dill infused sour cream.

Gravadlax has been around for centuries as a way of preserving fish. The process extracts the water from the fish & stops it from going rancid. It takes about 5 minutes to prepare this & then you have to wait a few days.

The traditional ingredients are salt, sugar & dill but there are lots of variations. I like using beetroot as it gives a slight earthy flavour & a beautiful colour. Fennel seeds are fab with fish so I usually add those. I saw Jamie Oliver adding Schnapps to this on his tv show from Sweden. Sounds good but we don’t have it so I don’t know how that turns out yet. I tried a few drops of vodka once but didn’t taste it in the final result. I am going to try it with Gin next time. Once you have the general idea this is a great thing to play around with.

When you are choosing the salmon try to find a fairly thick fillet. It is best when it is about 1 inch thick. Thinner salmon should be cured for less time.

Salmon Gravadlax

Salmon Gravadlax with sour cream, Rye bread & a fennel & cucumber salad.

Salmon Gravadlax


400g Fillet of salmon
2-3 tbsp salt
1-2 tbsp sugar
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Fresh beetroot
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 bunch of dill


1. Rinse & dry the salmon fillet & place it in a roasting tray or on a plate. Cover the top with a generous layer of sea salt. Then sprinkle with sugar (about half the amount of sugar to salt).

2. Grate lemon rind over the fish then the fresh beetroot. It should cover the surface of the salmon well. Toast the fennel seeds & sprinkle those liberally around.
Salmon GravadlaxSalmon GravadlaxSalmon Gravadlax
3. Finally chop a bunch of dill & cover the fish completely. Pat everything down & wrap the whole thing in plenty of plastic wrap.

4. Find something heavy to place on top of the salmon to weigh it down really well. I use some heavy cooking books. Traditionally it was buried a foot underground so you can imagine it needs a hefty weight. Place in the fridge for 2-3 days.Salmon Gravadlax

Salmon Gravadlax

Use something heavy to weigh the salmon down

Salmon Gravadlax

5. When you take it out of the fridge quite a lot of water should have been drawn from the salmon. Gently scrape off the curing ingredients & wipe away the last parts with some kitchen towel. If there is skin on the fillet now is the time to remove it.

You should have a vibrant coloured piece of firm fish which will keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks. Slice it as & when you need it. Serve with crackerbreads, bread, yoghurt or sour cream & salad for a satisfying healthy lunch.

Salmon Gravadlax

The beetroot gives the fish an incredible colour

Salmon Gravadlax

4 responses to “Healthy Lunches – Salmon Gravadlax

  1. My very favourite food since learning to make it whilst standing on a kitchen stool in my childhood. Coming from NE Europe and being a Viking daughter, this is kind of ‘mother’s milk’! Please leave out the beetroot, please leave out the fennel seeds – a beautiful side of salmon with the correct proportion of salt/sugar and heaps of dill is sufficient! Inedible without the correct sweet mustard sauce ๐Ÿ™‚ ! Gravlax is one of the most classic of Scandinavian dishes – may I suggest that Viveka of the wonderful ‘myguiltypleasures’ is one of the world authorities. A chef working around Europe for decades, her recipes are classically perfect!! As she has said, she’s made ‘this one’ tens of thousands of times’ ๐Ÿ™‚ ! Her sauce is delightful!! Altho’ I still won’t, she has admitted to a tad of vodka or schnapps on occasion!! Enjoy!!!!!!!

    • You are so lucky that you have eaten this since you were a youngster. I am kind of annoyed that nobody told me about this before – I am 38 so I feel I have wasted a good 30 years of salmon joy.

      Thanks for the advice I will check out Viveka’s recipes.

  2. Yes! Just yes.

    When I saw cured fish on the menu, I thought it would be one of those delicious but too difficult & time consuming to actually make recipes, but this is so easy!

    I’ve got everything save the beetroot. This is happening- thanks!

    • Did you get a chance to try it yet?

      The beetroot gives more colour than flavour and is not really necessary, I just like the way it looks. The main thing is to cure the salmon with salt & sugar.

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