Gravlax: A Journey from Curing to Smoking

Gravlax, lox, and smoked salmon are culinary treasures that grace platters and palates worldwide. While they share a common ancestry in the realm of cured fish, each possesses unique characteristics that set it apart. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of gravlax, exploring its origins, preparation methods, and the tantalizing flavors it imparts.

What is Gravlax?

Gravlax is a cured salmon dish that originated in the Nordic countries, particularly Sweden. The term “gravlax” translates to “buried salmon,” a nod to the traditional method of curing the fish underground. This ancient preservation technique ensures that the salmon develops a distinctive flavor profile that has captivated taste buds for centuries.

The Art of Gravlax Curing

The gravlax curing process is a delicate balance of salt, sugar, and aromatics. The salmon is generously coated in a mixture of these ingredients, often enhanced with herbs and spices such as dill, juniper berries, and citrus zest. This aromatic blend draws moisture from the fish, creating a semi-dry texture while infusing it with a symphony of flavors.

Traditional vs. Modern Gravlax Curing

Traditionally, gravlax was cured underground for several weeks, allowing the flavors to meld and mature. However, modern methods have adapted the process to accommodate shorter curing times, typically ranging from 24 hours to a few days. This expedited approach yields a milder gravlax, perfect for those who prefer a less intense flavor.

Can Gravlax be Smoked?

While gravlax is traditionally cured without smoking, it can be infused with an additional layer of smokiness by cold-smoking the cured fish. This technique imparts a subtle smoky aroma and flavor, creating a hybrid delicacy that combines the best of both worlds.

Gravlax vs. Lox vs. Smoked Salmon

Feature Gravlax Lox Smoked Salmon
Curing Method Salt, sugar, herbs, spices Salt brine Salt brine, smoking
Smoking Optional (cold-smoked) No Yes
Texture Semi-dry Soft and pliable Firm and flaky (hot-smoked) or soft and silky (cold-smoked)
Flavor Intense, herbaceous, slightly sweet Salty, briny Smoky, salty
Common Uses Appetizers, salads, sandwiches Bagels, cream cheese Appetizers, salads, main courses

Gravlax, with its unique curing process and captivating flavor profile, stands as a culinary masterpiece that has transcended time and geography. Whether enjoyed in its traditional form or infused with the subtle smokiness of cold-smoking, gravlax continues to tantalize taste buds and elevate culinary experiences worldwide.

Easy Homemade Gravlox + Optional Cold Smoke Method


What is smoked gravlax?

Gravlax is a Scandinavian specialty. Like lox, gravlax tends to be salt-cured but not smoked; unlike lox, recipes usually call for a whole salmon fillet, not just the belly.

What’s the difference between smoked salmon lox and gravlax?

Taste: Lox tastes predominantly salty, while gravlax has more of a mild fish taste similar to sashimi. Texture: Lox is typically made with the belly of the salmon, making it more tender and fatty, while gravlax is often made with a variety of cuts that give it the fleshy or tougher texture of raw salmon.

What is the best way to serve gravlax?

If you’re eating gravlax the traditional way, you’ll want to serve it with hovmästarsås, the mustard-dill sauce typically spooned on top. Most recipes make this as a fairly sweet sauce, with a healthy dose of sugar.

Is pink salmon good for smoking?

Pink salmon is a classic choice for traditional smoked salmon, because of its texture and oil content. These fillets are vacuum sealed and ready to eat.

What is the difference between smoked salmon and gravlax?

Gravlax is cured with a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices, while smoked salmon is cured and then smoked. Gravlax has a firmer texture and a distinct fresh flavor compared to the smokiness of traditional smoked salmon. Can I use any salmon for making gravlax?

What does gravlax taste like?

Gravlax tastes like a cross between salmon sashimi (imagine it with the addition of seasoning from salt plus fresh herb flavour), and the smoked salmon slices you buy at stores – but minus the smokey flavour (because smoked salmon is made by smoking salmon). This Cured Salmon Gravlax recipe is perfect.

Can you make gravlax at home?

Although it may seem like a complex process, gravlax is surprisingly easy to make at home with this recipe. The curing mix, which includes salt, sugar, and pepper, is enough for 4 to 6 pounds of salmon. You can reduce or increase the quantities for smaller or larger fillets.

What is salmon gravlax?

Gravlax is the Scandinavian-style cold-cured salmon appetizer served thinly sliced with a mustard-dill sauce drizzled on top. Although it may seem like a complex process, gravlax is surprisingly easy to make at home with this recipe. The curing mix, which includes salt, sugar, and pepper, is enough for 4 to 6 pounds of salmon.

Leave a Comment