Gravlaks: Cure Your Fish for the Perfect Appetizer

Appetizer, Everyday, Fish, Holiday, Leftovers | November 18, 2015 | By

The holiday season is approaching, and gravlaks with mustard sauce has become a Christmas Eve appetizer tradition in our extended family. And it’s also my go-to appie for potlucks and other parties and I keep some in the freezer at all times. I even have the curing mix ready in case of extra fish.

And making it yourself is surprisingly easy, all you need is salmon or trout filets with the skin on, salt, sugar, herbs, white pepper, a baking dish, a fridge, and about 24 hours.

For a 2 lb filet, use half a cup of sea salt and half a cup of sugar with a good tablespoon of cracked white pepper. 

Curing salmon for gravlaks

Mix equal parts of salt and sugar, add cracked white pepper. Pour a third of the mixture in a baking dish, place the fish skin side down, add the herbs. Here I used fresh thyme. Dill is very good and lemon oregano adds a nice flavour. 

Pour the second third of the salt/sugar/pepper mix over the fish, position the other halves of the fish skin side up on top of the first.

Add the rest of the salt mixture, cover with plastic wrap, and put in your fridge.

Curing salmon for gravlaks

After about 12 hours, the salt and sugar will have ‘melted’ and look like this. Remove from the fridge, take a spoon and ensure all parts of the fish are covered with the mixture, including the flesh. Turn the filets so the top ones are on the bottom. Put the plastic wrap back on and return to the fridge.

Curing salmon for gravlaks

When the 24 hours are up, discard the plastic wrap and remove the herbs from the fish.

Curing salmon for gravlaks

Gently rinse of the salt and sugar under cold running water.

Curing salmon for gravlaks

Pat to dry with a paper towel.


Find your sharp knife and slice to taste!

Curing salmon for gravlaks

Put on Wasa crackers for your breakfast or eat with scrambled eggs.

For the appetizer, serve on pumpernickel toast with:

Mustard Sauce

  • 3 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 T vinegar
  • kosher salt
  • cracked white pepper
  • 3 T olive oil
  • Fresh dill, finely chopped 

And if your guests don’t eat all of the fish you cured, it can safely be frozen and served on short notice. Or cut leftover strips and use for your next fettucine meal; delicious!

You may have seen recipes adding vodka or aquavit to the curing and feel free to experiment with a tablespoon or two. Last year’s Amaro gave a hint of liquorice to a batch I cured a while back. I do admit to prefering the purist version, though.

Some recipes also call for pressing the fish while curing and leaving for two to three days. If you have a big thick piece of fish it may require longer, but the shorter curing process described here will give you a soft, almost sashimi-like consistency and delicate flavour. Enjoy!

Gravlaks with mustard sauce




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  1. 2 Dinners, 1 Lunch, and an Appetizer - - […] Like these trout filets which gave us two dinners, one lunch, and a side of gravlaks (always good to…

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