California Girl Makes Gravlaxs

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I married a man of Danish extraction whose father immigrated to the U.S. by way of Canada and found love in the plains of South Dakota. And, from the Black Hills to a seaside town love found me.  From Kransekake at our wedding rehearsal dinner to the vanilla wreath cookies using just a bit of hartshorn,  we mixed and blended many Scandinavian traditions over the years. Embracing the man by embracing the culture and heritage of his growing up.

As local salmon season winds down time to try one more tradition. Gravlaks (or Gravlax),  salmon buried beneath brandy, salt and sugar, topped with fresh chopped herbs; changed by osmosis where the dry cure is turned into brine. Salty, sweet and infused with dill thinly sliced and served with bread as an appetizer or with potatoes. This method is very easy to accomplish in three short days. Imagine on bagels for breakfast, or with poached eggs, or in a salad. Yes, you should try this at home.

Salmon Gravlax

California Style Gravlaks
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Changing up the herbs alters this traditional Scandinavian dish with a bit of California flare.
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Danish
Serves: 6-8
  • ⅓ cup packed light Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup Kosher Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon finely ground Black Pepper
  • 1 - 1 ½ pounds center cut Salmon fillet, skin on
  • 3 tablespoons Brandy
  • 1 cup chopped fresh Dill
  • ½ cup chopped fresh Cilantro
  1. Combine sugar, pepper and salt in medium sized bowl, mix thoroughly.
  2. Chop fresh herbs.
  3. Place salmon skin-side down in a 9” x 13” glass baking pan (or size that fits your fillet without crowding.)
  1. Spoon brandy over the salmon fillets, as it pours off the fish recollect and spoon again. Make sure every bit has been doused with the brandy.
  2. Next cover the fish with the sugar and salt mixture, again make sure you evenly coat the entire surface of the salmon. Pat down with your hands.
  3. Add the freshly chopped herbs as your next layer pressing into the surface of the meat over the salt and sugar.
  4. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, I laid a generous piece over the top of the salmon and pressed down around the surrounding interior of the pan before anchoring on the top edges.
  5. Now the fun! Set another rectangular baking dish on top of the salmon and weigh it down with 2 or 3 heavy cans. This will press the layers of herbs and salt into the flesh and compress the fillets.
  6. Place in the refrigerator and over the next two days baste the salmon with the liquids that will flow from the curing.
  7. After you baste you may need to replace the dill and cilantro top layer so it remains well covered.
  8. On Day Three drain off the liquid and remove the herbs; it is ready to serve!
  9. Slice thinly on the bias and serve on rye or other favorite crackers. I added a bit of cream cheese and a thin slice of red onion or a little lime zest and chopped cilantro.
This can keep up to a week in the refrigerator, leaving it whole and only slicing what you need per serving

Getting started and bury your fish under layers of brandy, salt, sugar and herbs.

Salmon, fresh herbs

Day Two start basting!

Basting salmon with brine

Day Three ready to serve!

Gravlax Salmon Appetizer


What traditions have you adopted?



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2 Responses to California Girl Makes Gravlaxs

  1. OMG Robin that looks incredibly good!!! I’ve never plucked up the courage to cure my own salmon but you make it sound eminently achievable. Watch this space!

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