April in the raw post: How to make gravadlax

The finished lox. Served on a wooden fish platter.

When Brittany of Real Sustenance asked me to participate in her April in the Raw event, I signed up without question. Then I started to think about it and realized that the word ‘Raw’ actually quite scares me. I’ve been feeling a bit bombarded by ‘Raw’ lately. When I walk into my local Wholefoods there is a big rack full of Raw foods. Some of them look really good, but they are all horrifically expensive and I spend half of my time trying to figure out what anything is.

Silly really, as we eat lots of raw stuff. Raw veg, fruit, smoothies with raw ingredients and – when I come to think of it – raw fish.

The contributors to April in the Raw to date have done an amazing job of demistifying raw. There have been raw chocolate treats and raw dips and raw cheese. All look really good and not quite as terrifying as I expected. Brittany also outlines the heath benefits of raw food on her April in the Raw page. All contributors are listed there and it really is worth checking out their posts.

My contribution is to regurgitate a post from last year on how to make gravad lax. I love this stuff. I could live off it every day – well, I think I could. We make it at Christmas time, but I feel another batch is well overdue.

How to make gravadlax

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. If 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. Beautiful post, recipe and images, Nicola!

  2. Christine says:

    On behalf of my husband (because I know that he LOVES Gravalax!), thank you for sharing this recipe! Ever since we went to Sweden last year he loves the stuff, but doesn’t always love the price tag of the stuff you find at the grocery store. I’m going to have to show him this and he’ll probably go out and buy some salmon shortly! haha

  3. [...] April 14th; How to make Gravadlax from the G-Free [...]

  4. Gigi says:

    So happy to have found your site! I love your step-by-step instructions & photos…very nicely done!

    I’ll be stopping by again soon! :)


  5. Wow, Nicola! Talk about a tutorial! I have never had this, but now I’m dying to try some. I’m a salmon fanatic for sure. :-)


    • nstockmann says:

      Shirley – you will love it if you love salmon!

      Kim – I never thought I could make this myself and always left it to M – but it really isn’t that difficult and the results are worth it. ;-).

  6. Nicola this is just a brilliant tutorial!! My cousin’s husband is from Norway and he makes gravadlax for our family parties all of the time!! It is unbelievable! Thank you so much for sharing this with us! I am now inspired to make my own (especially since my cousin’s hubby never shares his recipe, lol)!

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