Gravlax

60 Comments

In January, after I posted on a soup recipe from the cookbook Back to Square One, by Joyce Goldstein, I was told in a comment that the Gravlax recipe in the same cookbook was the best.

Sandra, an Aussie known to many of us bloggers as “lady red specs,” is the one who left the comment. Her blog, Please Pass the Recipe, is one I’ve followed for years, and I trusted her recommendation.

Sandra claims that the recipe for gravlax has the perfect ratio of salt, sugar, and booze, which is why she continues to use the recipe. Having never made gravlax, I decided this was a perfect recipe to use for my first experience.

The whole salmon thing is a bit complicated, with basic grilling or baking, but also smoking, curing, and brining.

There’s hot-smoked/cooked salmon, which I make in my stove-top smoker, there’s brined and cold-smoked salmon, or lox, that retains a sashimi-like texture, and gravlax or gravdlax, which is the Scandinavian name for brined and cured salmon. All are considered cooked, although via different cooking methods.

The gravlax recipe in the book calls for Scotch, which Ms. Goldstein chose to use with her Scottish salmon. Makes sense, but I’m not fond of any of the brown liquors. Fortunately, Sandra recommended vodka.

She also recommended that I use lemon zest and lemon thyme, instead of the traditional dill weed.

Fortunately I’d just planted lemon thyme.

So here’s what I did.

Home-Made Gravlax
based on a recipe in Back to Square One

1 salmon filet, about 1 1/2 pounds
4-5 tablespoons vodka
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons salt
Lemon Zest
Leaves of lemon thyme

Clean and dry the salmon if necessary, and remove any pin bones. Place the filets in a glass baking dish. Sprinkle the vodka over the flesh.

Mix the sugar, salt, zest and thyme leaves together, then rub the mixture into the salmon.


Cover the salmon with plastic wrap and weigh it down.

Refrigerate the salmon for no more than 3 days. To serve, gently wipe the salmon filets with a paper towel, but don’t rinse the mixture off. Thinly slice the salmon across the grain.

You can serve bagels, crackers, crisps, bread, or blini.

One can also serve the traditional lox goodies like cream cheese, chopped hard-boiled egg, chopped purple onions, and capers.

Treat the salmon just as you would lox, although the texture is firmer.

I probably could have sliced the salmon even thinner if I’d been more patient, but as it was it was translucent.

verdict: I am not a gravlax expert, but I can’t imagine another tasting any better than this one. The flavor is surprisingly mild, even with all of the lemon, salt, and sugar. And full disclosure, my salmon cured for four full days because I had to leave town. The texture was firm, but the flavor exquisite. I know I’ll be using this recipe again!

Hot Smoked Salmon

49 Comments

I own a Cameron’s stovetop smoker. I’ve used it for all kinds of proteins, but my favorite one to smoke is salmon. One evening recently I was having a girlfriend over for dinner, so smoking a salmon fillet was an easy choice. Besides, it was an excuse for me to have salmon, because my husband won’t eat it.

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The smoker does all the work so it’s really easy to do while your company is with you in the kitchen.

Sprinkle your choice of wood chips in the bottom of the smoker; I used maple chips today.


There’s no preparation necessary for the smoking process, other than to have a freshly rinsed filet of salmon, of uniform thickness, ideally. Mine was just over a pound. Then make sure it’s dry.

Place the salmon on the foil-wrapped pan and season. I simply used Old Bay seasoning because it works so well with fish.
ss7
There is a rack that comes with the smoker, but since the skin was on the bottom side of the salmon, I didn’t bother using it. The rack allows the smoke to go underneath whatever is on it.

Close the lid, then turn on the heat underneath to medium. Once the smoke starts coming out, turn the heat down; you don’t want the salmon to cook too fast because you’re cooking it and smoking it. I smoked this particular filet for 25 minutes, over the lowest heat setting.

The photo below shows the salmon after 15 minutes.

ss9
Once the smoking is over, slice and serve.
ss

I really like mine smoky, but you can adjust the amount of smoke intensity by how much of the wood chips you use. Cameron’s has a huge variety of chips that you can buy, so you always have a choice.
ss5
As long as the heat is low, the protein won’t overcook. Hopefully from the photos you can tell that the salmon is tender and moist.
ss1
Because it’s fall, I served the smoked salmon with Brussels sprouts drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with coarse salt.


Hot-smoked salmon can be served any time of the year. With asparagus in the spring, with a green salad in summer, and in winter – with a mash, of course!
ss3