Recipe: Gravlax From the Kitchen Window column
NPR logo Gravlax


Gravlax is a kind of Scandinavian cured salmon that gets its flavor from dill and a bit of liquor (if you abstain, water also will work). Plan to start curing the fish at least three days before you want to eat it so it becomes fully infused.

Nicole Spiridakis for NPR
Nicole Spiridakis for NPR

Makes 1 pound

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons ground black pepper

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 pound salmon fillet

3 tablespoons cognac, vodka or white wine

1⁄2 bunch dill, chopped

5 sprigs from a fennel top

Mustard dill sauce, optional, for serving (recipe below)

Combine salt, sugar, pepper and maple syrup in a bowl and stir well to combine. Remove any bones from the salmon and place fish skin side down on a piece of parchment paper in a large baking dish. Pour the salt mixture over the fish and rub into the flesh, then sprinkle cognac, vodka or wine over it and arrange the dill and fennel on top of the salmon. Wrap the salmon tightly in the parchment paper, then place a slightly smaller baking dish directly on top and weigh it down with unopened cans or a book. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 days.

After the salmon is cured, remove from parchment, rinse in cold water and pat dry with paper towel or clean dishcloth. Thinly slice fish before serving.

Mustard Dill Sauce

Makes 1/2 cup

1/4 cup mustard

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1⁄4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Place mustard in a bowl and whisk in the salt, lemon juice, water and olive oil. Whisk well to fully combine. Add the minced dill.

To serve, place a slice of gravlax on a piece of bread, top with 1/2 teaspoon or so (to taste) of the mustard sauce, and garnish with fresh dill.