Gravadlax, lox – whatever you want to call it – here’s how to make it


The finnished lox. Served on a wooden fish platter.

The Swedish traditions abound in our house at this time of year and M’s spectacular gravadlax (lox) is always on our menu for our Christmas Eve Smörgåsbord, for New Years and foodie gifts to give away along the way. This year we made the lox early and took it as an appetizer for our Thanksgiving dinner with friends. It got many compliments and it has to be said that this lox was probably the best ever. All compliments go to the fantastic wild Alaska salmon that we bought at the San Rafael Farmers market from Lance Alldrin. Lance helps us find the perfect pieces of fish for curing, helps ensure that they are perfectly matched in size and assures us that it’s going to be fantastic. He is right!

Salmon at the market

Alldrin Alaska Salmon

We select two evenly sized pieces of salmon, each weighing around 3/4 of a pound. We select mid-pieces so that they are a little thicker. They are already frozen, so we can move right on to the curing process. If you buy fresh salmon, always ensure that you freeze it first before making the lox. The freezing ensures that all bacteria are killed. The size of the pieces doesn’t really matter, as long as you ensure that both pieces are equal.

Why salmon is flash frozen

Why freezing salmon is important

Once you have defrosted your salmon pieces, make sure you check for any fish bones by running your forefinger over the fish. Pull out any bones with a pair of tongs.

Pull out the bones from the fish

Pull out the bones from the fish

Take a handful of white and black peppercorns, mix them together and crush them. Ideally with a pestle and mortar to release their full flavor.

Crush black and white pepper

Crush black and white pepper with pestle and mortar

Finely chop the rind of one lemon – preferably organic.

chop lemon rind finely

chop lemon rind finely

Roughly chop a bunch of dill. We managed to get amazing fresh dill from the Farmers Market. Just perfect.

chopping dill

chop a bunch of dill

Coat one piece of the de-boned salmon with the chopped dill.

coat salmon with dill

coat salmon with dill

Then squeeze over the juice from one lemon.

Squeeze juice of lemon

squeeze over the juice of one lemon

Pour over the crushed peppercorns.

pour over pepper

pour over crushed pepper

And add the chopped lemon rind on top.

add lemon rind

add lemon rind

Pour a good few slugs of olive oil over the top. A good quality olive oil really will make a difference. Then lay the other piece of salmon on top.

Pour over olive oil

pour over olive oil and place second piece of fish on top

Press down firmly on the salmon. Place another plate on top to cover and put the salmon in the fridge, wedged between two plates. Put something on top of the plates to weight them down. The salmon will now sit in the fridge for 3 to 4 days (ideally 4). The salmon needs to be turned half way, so that the bottom piece is now on top.

press down on fish

press down on fish

After 4 days, slice the salmon with a fillet or sashimi knife. Cut the fish at an angle, ensuring that you get nice smooth pieces.

cut at angle

cut cured salmon at an angle

Lay the pieces out on a serving tray, or plate. Serve with mustard sauce.

Here’s how to make the sauce:

2tbs wholegrain mustard

1tsp honey

4 tbs olive oil

1 tbs red wine vinegar

2tbs finely chopped fresh dill

pinch sugar

pinch black pepper.

Mix the ingredients together and serve a little with each slice of lox. Delicious!

As a re-cap of what you need for the lox itself:

2 pieces of salmon (preferably Wild Alaskan). Mid pieces, equal in size.

1 lemon

1/4 cup of black and white peppercorns

olive oil

bunch of fresh dill


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  1. This looks wonderful. You are going to get me to make this! This would be so good on a bagel with a smear of cream cheese.

  2. Guillermo Slacks says:

    Mr T is sooooooo gourmet.

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jayne and Aunt Jayne, nicola stockmann. nicola stockmann said: Finally sharing M's deepest, darkest secret of how to make the best ever gravadlax. Enjoy!… [...]

  4. Eve says:

    Very impressive. I always wondered how Gravad Lax was made – now I know. It looks so good I might even have a go at it.

  5. Alisa Cooks says:

    This is something that has been on my “to make” list for ages! Most of the recipes call for tons of sugar (no idea why?), so this one looks much better to me. Thanks!

  6. Rosita says:

    Hi Nicola, I have made ths in the past but will try your recipie! I have passed the gluten free stuff on to a friend as well. Well done Nicola, Rosita.

  7. [...] salmon is sat in the freezer ready to prepare our gravadlax for Christmas next week and 3 candles are lit on the wreath for the third Sunday in Advent today. [...]

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