Norwegian Cured Salmon (Gravlax)

Gravlax is a Nordic dish of salmon that is cured using  salt, sugar, and dill. Gravlax is usually served as an appetizer, sliced thinly and accompanied by a dill-mustard sauce with dark rye bread or boiled potatoes.

During the Middle Ages, gravlax was made by fishermen who preserved the the salmon in salt and lightly fermented it by burying it in the sand above the high-tide line. Today, the salmon is “buried” in a dry marinade of salt, sugar, and dill, and cured for twelve hours to a few days in the refrigerator. There are no funky fermented flavors to develop a taste for, just the clean, mildly salty flavor of lightly cured salmon and dill.

Norwegian gravlax

Gravlax – Scandinavian Cured Salmon

The whole process for making gravlax is ridiculously easy, especially since it is one of those dishes that manage to impress people. The hardest thing about making your own gravlax is waiting a few days for it to cure and slicing it thin. It's great served as a Smorrebrod over small squares of Danish rye bread (Rugbrod) or pumpernickel.
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Course: Appetizer, Breakfast, Brunch, Snack
Cuisine: North Western European, Norway, Scandanavian
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Curring: 2 days
Total Time: 2 days 25 minutes
Servings: 25 Thin slices
Author: My Hungry Traveler


  • Large nonreactive pan or casserole to hold fish


  • 2 lb Salmon filet, skin-on, highest quality
  • ½ cup Kosher salt or sea salt (no iodine)
  • cup Sugar
  • 2 bunch Fresh dill
  • 1 bunch Fresh basil
  • ½ tsp Ground coriander
  • ½ tsp Black pepper
  • Honey Dill Mustard (see Notes below)


  • Rinse fish by putting it in large bowl of cold salt water for 10 minutes.
    Mix sugar, salt, coriander and pepper in a small bowl.
    Remove salmon from water and pat dry with paper towels. Turn salmon skin side-up and sprinkle with ½ of the sugar-salt mixture. Rub in lightly.
    Arrange 1 bunch of dill and ½ bunch of basil in a baking dish large enough to hold the salmon. Mix dill and basil then lay salmon on top skin side down. Rub remainder of mixture over top and cover with the remaining dill and basil. Cover in plastic wrap and weigh it down with a smaller dish with cans to add weight.
    After 1 day, remove and turn salmon over by removing the plastic wrap and setting the top layer of dill and basil aside. Turn salmon over so skin sides facing up, put dill and basil back on top, cover with plastic wrap. Put dish, weighted down again, back in refrigerator for 1½ to 2 days more.
    Remove cured salmon from the dish. Scrape off herbs and rinse lightly. Pat dry with paper towels. Set fish on a cutting board skin-side down. With a long sharp knife, cut thin slices on the bias. It's ready to serve with lemon slices, Honey Mustard Dill sauce and potatoes, dark rye bread or as a smorrebrod.


  • A liquid will develop during the curing stage. This is good. It means the fish is marinating in brine and absorbing flavors. It gets rinsed away at the end.
  • Gravlax can be refrigerated, tightly wrapped, for about 5 days.
  • Gravlax can be frozen. Tightly wrap uncut piece you want to freeze and put in a ziplock bag. Gravlax can be frozen several months this way. Defrost slowly in a refrigerator.


Calories: 62kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 16mg | Potassium: 180mg | Fiber: 0.03g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 38IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.3mg

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