Gravlax with Dill Mustard Sauce and Cucumber Salad

Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Keep it Simple

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1993

  • About

This means ‘buried salmon', an unappealing way of describing a now universally loved dish that is quintessentially Scandinavian. Indeed, all four nations claim it as their own. Being Danish by association (married to one) I favour their claim.

This is a dish which introduces dill to people who previously thought of it just as part of a Jewish pickle jar. If fresh dill is unavailable you can achieve fairly good results with masses of the freeze-dried herb. In Denmark gravlax is usually served with an oversweet, mild mustard relish. I serve it with sweet pickled cucumbers and a rather more abrasive sauce to counteract the silky texture and taste of the salmon. You will note that I have specified farmed - as opposed to wild - salmon. This is the only dish in which I would contemplate doing so. Never try and make it with too small a piece of fish as the cure does not work. You will just end up with an over-salted and pretty inedible piece of salmon.

The slicing and serving sound rather complicated but are not in fact, difficult You can practise on the first fillet and demonstrate your mastery of the technique on the second, remembering all the while that farmed salmon is now one of the cheapest protein sources available. One fillet will do for six people. The rest will make great second helpings or sandwiches.

Scandinavians eat more salt than anybody except perhaps the Japanese, so consider your second course carefully. No more salt - something gentle and soothing. In any case, gravlax is so rich it is really a meal in its own right Bread with it and cheese and fruit afterwards. Ça suffit or however you say that in Danish.