How to Make Gravlax (Cured Salmon)


This is a basic recipe for gravlax, or cured salmon. Easy to do, less expensive and tastes better than store bought. Once you have this recipe down, you can start playing with other flavorings, like adding dill or mint. The fattier the salmon, the better for gravlax.


1 side of fresh salmon, pin bones pulled (3 lbs. approximately)
2 cups sugar
1 cups kosher salt (coarse crystal)
2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1 big bunch of fresh thyme, larger softer leaves preferred
1/4 cup apple brandy or brandy


Combine sugar, salt, pepper, and thyme in a stainless steel or porcelain bowl.

Lay down a layer of the sugar salt mixture in a shallow, flat, non-reactive dish (Pyrex or steel hotel pan).

Lay the fish, skin down, onto the sugar-salt mixture. If the fish is thick (more than 2”) use a sharp, thin bladed knife to either just slash through the skin, or to just poke many holes into the skin. This allows the cure to permeate the entire fillet.

Coat the top generously with the sugar/salt mixture. Cover with plastic loosely.

Next day, spread cheesecloth over the fish, pat down, and drizzle brandy evenly over the fish. Re-cover with plastic. Allow to cure one day more.

To serve, scrape off the cure, wipe with a just damp paper towel, blot dry with paper toweling, and slice thinly.

Wrap tightly in plastic wrap when not using. Will keep 3-4 days or more if kept cold and well covered. Can be frozen if cut down to smaller pieces.

Chef’s Notes and Tips:

Here are some options with this recipe:

  • Weighting the fish. Place a weight in a container that will fit the length of and width of the fillet as it cures in its pan. Not too heavy- around 1 pound spread out over the fish.
  • Oiling the fish. A light wiping with olive or grapeseed oil will add luster and help keep the surface from drying and forming a pellicle  (a hard, dull white skin).
  • If you’d like to try mint with the salmon, use a good bourbon instead of brandy in the recipe.

SOURCE:  Chef Andrew E Cohen

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