how to make gravlax

How to Make Gravlax

September 23, 2010 · 39 comments

**please keeping voting for homeroom to help us win $10,000 – only a few days left. It takes 5 seconds flat! You can vote BOTH through facebook here, AND through the DailyCandy site here. That’s 2 votes a day!**

Okay. Back to business (but really, please vote! This $10K can make the difference between us making our budget or not.)

Funny how things change. Isn’t it?

If you would have told me one year ago that I’d be opening a restaurant–a mac and cheese restaurant, with a girl I hardly knew–I would have laughed. Really, who does that?

And now it’s fall again, and I put an extra layer on when I walk Ema in the mornings. But I’m not sitting behind a desk. I’m sitting at a cafe, at 9:30am, trying to finish this post so I can continue my search for used equipment. Who would have thought…

Think about it. What aspect of your life did you not expect? Is there anything that makes you think, “Damn. I never saw that coming.”

No? Really? Well maybe that should be somewhat of a priority. Make a change, even a small one, and see how it feels. Plant a garden, start running, take up yoga–start anything that can grow and evolve, and see what happens one year from today. Who knows, maybe you have gift you never knew about.

There are constants in my life though. Things I can count on to stay the same. Alejandro, my most important constant . . . and this gravlax recipe. I have wanted to make this recipe for ages– since I first saw it in Saveur.

And now, a year later, I made gravlax. Damn good gravlax. And I’m opening a restaurant. Who knew?

How to Make Gravlax
(technique adapted from saveur magazine)

2 pounds, center-cut, wild, pacific salmon (debone with a tweezer. Makes life much easier.)
2/3 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons marash pepper
1 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons crushed black peppercorns

Combine all of the spices into a large bowl.

Cover a plate with plastic wrap, and pour half of the spices on top. Place the salmon on top of the spices, skin side down, and cover with the rest of the spice mixture.

Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 48-72 hours. Every 12 hours, flip and redistribute the spices with your fingers. You’ll notice that it’ll be extremely wet–that’s okay. The brine is pulling the moisture out of the salmon.

The salmon will feel firm when fully cured. Unwrap, and throw out the brine. Rinse the salmon under cold water, and pat dry with a paper towel. Use a very sharp knife to thinly slice against the grain.

You can serve it many ways, but my favorite is on a toasted baguette with avocado, drizzled with good olive oil and course salt.

Where I Shopped:
Wild Salmon: Ver Brugge, Oakland

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{ 4 trackbacks }

Let’s Lunch | Home Cured Copper River Salmon | Gravlax » Chez Us
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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

heather @ chiknpastry September 23, 2010 at 10:33 am

it IS crazy how things turn out in life, and how you look back and wonder, “how in the hell did I get here?! for me, going to culinary school was that ‘wtf’ moment – i still wonder what made me do it in the midst of a perfectly fine and good career! but usually our hobbies are what make us happiest, so transforming them into careers can’t be a bad idea, right?!

love the gravlax, can’t say i’ve ever made it tho !


dawn September 23, 2010 at 11:40 am

“Cover a plate with plastic wrap, and pour half of the spices on top. Place the salmon on top of the spices, skin side down.
Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 48-72 hours. ”

What do you do with the other half of the spice mixture? I assume you pour it on top of the salmon before wrapping it up, but …?


Allison Arevalo September 23, 2010 at 11:54 am

ha! oh no! Thanks for pointing that out. Yes, put the other half on top. I’ll update the recipe now :)


Elizabeth September 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Great recipe and photos. I love gravlax it is so easy to make, and this recipe sounds very different then what I normally make. Awesome flavours!


Judy September 23, 2010 at 7:51 pm

wow you’re opening a restaurant? sounds so exciting! if it does happen it’s going to pull you away from here but then again, i think we’d all just be happy knowing there was somewhere we could visit for a meal =) yummy gravlax. never made it before, so i think i should!!


Judy September 23, 2010 at 7:58 pm

I voted, and btw, very gorgeous Homeroom website! I fell in love with the name, and the menu, and it’s such a sunny addition to a beautiful sunny city =)


erin September 23, 2010 at 9:39 pm

i ate this lox, and it was insanely delicious.


SONIA September 24, 2010 at 1:57 am

Do you mean that you are not going to cook it? I’m afraid it’s a little bit dangeous. I mean: to expose gravelax to the air, to manipulate it so many times…


Dana September 27, 2010 at 10:22 am

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at gravlax, but it’s seemed kind of scary up until now. You make it sound so simple!


Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen September 28, 2010 at 7:57 am

I adore gravlax – ate as much of it as I could when I lived in Norway. Yours looks beautiful!

I totally agree about change! If you would have told me a year ago I was going to be homesteading, gardening, and hunting in the wilds of Vermont, I would have never guessed it! Life is full of surprises when you are willing to make a leap of faith!


Prerna@IndianSimmer October 1, 2010 at 12:31 pm

What GORGEOUS space you have created here!
Thanks to twitter for suggesting I take a look at your blog because they’re right.. I love it :-)
Good Luck to you!


Laurie October 2, 2010 at 9:12 am

What a beautiful site you have here. Congratulations on your new restaurant! That’s very exciting and inspiring. I would enter your mac and cheese contest, but California cheeses are local on Cape Cod where I live.


Laurie October 2, 2010 at 9:13 am

Oops, I meant NOT local.


kamran siddiqi October 4, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Gorgeous post, Allison! The photos are absolutely wonderful! Bookmarking this recipe for the next time I want some homemade gravlax.


beth October 4, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Allison I’ve always loved your posts and pictures. AND…. your amazing recipes. I, like you rarely use recipes but I do take inspiration from lots of resources. I’m happy that you are getting your restuarant but more importantly I’m happy that you are truey doing what makes you happy. Life is short and I thinks its fab that you are starting so young to grab the brass ring so to speak. Good Luck!!! I will be there to try your goods when you open. Beth


Melissa October 6, 2010 at 5:35 am

Thanks for a gorgeous post! I wish I’d known it was so easy, and can’t wait to try it. One thing I always wonder about with foods prepped like this – how long can they keep? Do you have any insight into this? I generally just try to eat them within a week, and have never had anything fail the smell-test, but then I also think that a pickled food could maybe keep (under refrigeration) for much longer… Best of luck with your restaurant!!!


Nicole October 6, 2010 at 9:30 am

Another wonderful recipe! Best of luck, hope you win the big bucks :)


Angela@spinachtiger October 16, 2010 at 8:26 am

Life is funny that way. I never ever ever thought I would be huge part in raising someone else’s twin boys. They are the love love of my life. They love mac and cheese by the way, so I’m also looking forward to a mac and cheese cookbook that you will be writing. Of course, their favorite is pesto and penne with lots and lots of freshly grated parm cheese. At three years old, you see the palate they have! They would scarf up your gravlax. (they cook too).

Good luck and blessings for your restaurant. When is opening day?


Alexia @ Dimple Snatcher October 20, 2010 at 2:27 pm

congrats on the restaurant! mac n’ cheese you say?!
i just found ya, and i totally get your bit on escaping ny for “year-round produce.”
i went apple picking this past weekend and i realized that i hadn’t picked anything from a tree in–GET THIS!!–over ten years. not since we moved from jamaica. madness!


Gaby @ What's Gaby Cooking November 7, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Made this for a baby shower brunch this past weekend and it was literally the talk of the party!! Great recipe!


Al November 29, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Looks really yummy!
How long will this keep in the fridge?


Joy December 8, 2010 at 6:22 am

Those littles sparks of change, like moving out with your best friend can sometimes result in marrying him within the year and a few short months later having a baby in a new province with an entirely new and unexpected life.

This gravlax looks sooo tasty! I made some a few months ago and was shocked I could easily make it at home, it’s been too long – you have definitely convinced me to make it again.


LimeCake December 18, 2010 at 5:30 am

I really like the incredible flavours you’ve chosen for the salmon. Homemade gravlax is unparalleled. This looks delicious!


fotograf lublin January 10, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Great recipe and photos!!


Richard Stevens February 4, 2011 at 10:55 am

Great post on how to make such a delightful meal!


Sharmila@CheekyChilli March 1, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Congratulations once again from a long time reader of your blog. Is it strange that I’m really excited about your restaurant? But I am, so much so that I’ve mentioned it to every friend I have here in the Bay Area. (I’ve been following all your ups-and-downs through the Mac saga.) I think some of them are beginning to believe I have a secret stake in it. All this even before I even eat there.
In reality, I’m just super excited for two reasons. One, anyone who writes of food like you do and about all you do will have a fabulous menu. Two, you are living my dream! I hope very much to have my own restaurant someday. Don’t know if I ever will, but this post of yours, so inspiring!
Good luck with the fab new venture. I can’t wait to eat at Homeroom!


Group Purchase Online April 16, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I have just discovered this site and I just would like to give a huge two thumbs up for the great information and recipies you have here. I’ll be stopping by to your website for more soon.
Thanks Dave


Elle (Bromography) May 25, 2011 at 10:40 pm

A beautiful post! Life’s twist’s and turns can certainly be an adventure.


Diane Lee June 3, 2011 at 11:34 am

Yummy I love gravlax, making it and eating it! Until last year I had never made it (the Scandinavian half of me is ashamed). Then we made some in culinary school last year and it was a culinary epiphany and since haven’t been able to get enough of it! Have made it several times with different flavor profiles for friends parties and it’s always a hit. I like serving it with creme fraiche, fresh lemon (either pulp or zest) and chives on a crispy toast/cracker. I am lucky to live in the PNW and have access to so much super fresh salmon, nice to have another use for it besides grilling, planking or roasting it! Will have to try your recipe – Thank you for sharing it!


Jessica August 11, 2011 at 9:36 am

Congratulations on opening a restaurant! That is so exciting. I’ll be sure to visit when it opens.

Your gravlax looks delicious and the wild salmon is beautiful!


Pearl Maya April 27, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Just letting you know I am having trouble voting … I hope I am the only one :-)


Pearl Maya April 27, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Silly me, I forgot to look at the date of you post :-/


Jillian Mckee July 13, 2012 at 10:50 am


I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could e-mail me?



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