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Gewürze aus Santa Lemusa


The salmon fillet needs to be rubbed extensively with a mixture of sugar, salt, dill and spices.

Gravad Lax

Salmon cured in salt, sugar, dill and spices

What bliss for Hektor Maille that on that evening on Bullerö his landlady found at least a big piece of Gravad Lax in her fridge.

The freshly caught fish is eviscerated, rubbed with a dry mixture of sugar, salt and spices, and then buried in the sand or soil for at least three days (the Swedish word gravad means «to bury»). The marinade sucks the moisture out of the salmon and the fish undergoes a slight fermentation. This drying-out process keeps out all organisms that hasten decay – and thereby increases the preservability of the fish. Nowadays, the salmon gets cured in the fridge and probably does not ferment anymore.

In Sweden Gravad Lax is served with a oily and quite sweet sauce with mustard and dill, and its consistency resembles that of mayonnaise (Swedish Hovmästarsås). We prefer a lighter sauce made of mustard, finely chopped dill and Crème fraîche. In addition we serve finely chopped onion rings and lemon. Gravad Lax is good with all kinds of bread, with Blinis or jacket potatoes.

This salmon-dish should be prepared at least 36 hours before consumption – better three days.

Ingredients (for 6 to 8 persons)

1 fresh fillet salmon with skin (800 to 1000 g)

1 or 2 tablespoons pepper

1 or 2 tablespoons juniper

1 or 2 tablespoons black mustard

1 or 2 tablespoons all spice

80 g sugar

150 g salt

150 g dill, finely chopped


  1. If necessary, scale the salmon filet and remove all bones with the help of tweezers or pliers.
  2. Incise the skin several times in order to allow the marinade to penetrate equally from this side. (The knife must be really sharp otherwise you might not come trough the tough skin of the fish.)
  3. Crush pepper, juniper, mustard and allspice in a mortar. Mix it with sugar, salt and dill. Rub the salmon with this mixture on all sides.
  4. Wrap the filet in clear film or aluminium foil and put into a deep dish. The dish is required because during the maceration some liquid flows out of the package. Leave the fish for 3 hours at room temperature, this brings the process into swing. Then keep the fish for at least 36 hours in the fridge. (Many recipes recommend that a heavy weight be placed on the fish – in order to press out the water. But it is unclear if this is really essential. We tried with and without the weight and did not notice any difference. We can say the same about the recommendation to turn the fish from time to time.) On the other hand, it seems reasonable to remove the liquid from the dish – particularly at the beginning when a lot of it is pulling out.
  5. Remove the clear film from the fish and scrape off the marinade – clean with some kitchen paper. (Some recipes recommend that the filet be washed. But this does not seem really necessary - also, there is the risk that some water might enter the holes in the fish).
  6. Cut thin slices along the broad surface of the filet.

Using the same method you can prepare other kinds of fatty fish – e.g. salmon trout.

Gravad Lax in the light of a kitchen in Paris, Rue Beaurepaire (HOIO's menu-test for Episode 5 of «Mission Kaki», October 19, 2009).

More about the travel adventure of Secret Agent Hektor Maille:

While eating these preparations Hektor Maille became aware of some strange connections between his tropical home and intrinsically Swedish traditions:

First Publication: 1-11-2009

Modifications: 23-1-2011, 18-6-2011, 14-11-2011, 13-12-2011