We Already Have 1060 Recipes.

Gravlaks – A Culinary tour around the world – Norway

Joan, of Foodalogue,  who is one of our Members at  BloggerAid,  is spreading the word about hunger by posting a series of posts during A Culinary Tour Around the World.    During her trips, Joan will be introducing us to some virtual friends she will be making and talking about the country and its culture.

As Joan Joan says: Over the past year or so, many of us have had to cut back on our discretionary spending but, to the best of my knowledge, we all still have food on the table. Millions of people do not. I am attaching this event to BloggerAid to help promote the effort to fight world famine. We begin with awareness. And, hopefully, awareness will lead to a call-to-action. Where possible, the event will include a glimpse of the culture and economy of the destination as well as a national dish and recipe.  Hopefully, the ‘trip’ into a culture we may never know will motivate readers to participate in the fight against hunger via BloggerAid or the World Food Programme and other worthy organizations.

Joan’s first stop is Norway and she is already there waiting for all of us to show up, so that she can introduce us to her Scandinavian friends and show us around.

Before packing, I tried to find out more about Norwegian cuisine and here is what I found out:

Norwegian cuisine is in its traditional form largely based on the raw materials readily available in a country dominated by mountains, wilderness and the sea. Hence, it differs in many respects from its continental counterparts with a stronger focus on game and fish.

Modern Norwegian cuisine, although still strongly influenced by its traditional background, now bears the marks of globalization: Pastas, pizzas and the like are as common as meatballs and cod as staple foods, and urban restaurants sport the same selection you would expect to find in any western European city.

The one traditional Norwegian dish with a claim to international popularity is the smoked salmon. It is now a major export, and could be considered the most important Norwegian contribution to modern international cuisine. Smoked salmon exists traditionally in many varieties, and is often served with scrambled eggs, dill, sandwiches or mustard sauce. Close to smoked salmon is gravlaks, (literally “dug salmon”), which is salt-and-sugar-cured salmon seasoned with dill and (optionally) other herbs and spices. Gravlaks is often sold under more sales-friendly names internationally. A more peculiar Norwegian fish dish is Rakfisk, which consists of fermented trout, a culinary relation of Swedish surströmming.

That information is what I read on Wikipedia and I started looking to find out how to make gravlaks.  During the Middle Ages, gravlax was made by fishermen, who salted the salmon and lightly fermented it by burying it in the sand above the high-tide line. The word gravlaks comes from the Scandinavian word grav, which means literally “grave” or “hole in the ground” (in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Estonian), and lax (or laks), which means “salmon”, thus gravlaks or gravlax is “salmon dug into the ground”.  Well, I didn’t follow that method for sure but here is a more easy approach.   I gave this recipe my touch by adding some lemon zest and the final result was giving the gravlax this lovely aroma.   The amount of dill used depends on what amount a bunch consists of in each country.  When in France and Switzerland, I was amazed by the really small quantity each package had in.  For example, in France they would need 5 packages to make one bunch of a Greek bunch of dill.


Preparation time:  15 minutes

Curing:  3 – 4 days


1- 2  fresh salmon fillets, about 400 – 500 grams (each)
1  bunch of dill or more enough to wrap the fillets
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon mixture of green, pink and black freshly ground peppercorns
1/4 cup salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 shot ouzo


Wash the fillet but don’t remove the skin but just scrub it to remove fish shells.   Dry with a paper towel.

Mix salt, sugar, lemon zest and juice, peppers and ouzo and rub the mix into the fish fillets.

Wrap the fillet with the dill and wrap it tightly into cling film.

Store in the refrigerator with some additional weight, on top, corresponding to a couple of pounds. Leave it in the fridge for three to four days.  Open the cling film once a day and add fresh dill.

Scrape away the spices and the dill and cut the fish from the skin in slanting, nice thin slices. This might be easier if the fish is slightly frozen.

Serve cold with spinach (dampened with butter or as a stew), scrambled eggs (prepared with chopped chives), and potatoes (boiled or stewed with cream and dill) as a dinner, or alternatively serve as a starter on toast (with a slice of lemon and mustard sauce) or as part of a smorgasbord with wholemeal bread and a mustard sauce.

This is cured and eaten raw but to tell you the truth, as I also got some reaction from the family I broiled it only for two minutes on each side and they were satisfied that it was not raw.

I tried it raw and for me it was fine.

No ratings yet.

Please rate this

19 Responses

  1. May I ask, if you eat the salmon as is, I mean, without cooking?

  2. PG

    Do I read it correctly that it is eaten raw. As I don’t see any use of lemon juice. Now this is very new to me, not unknown (who hasn’t heard of sushis), but i’m not sure if i would dare to preparee this for my family. 😀 Looks beautiful, though!
    BTW, I really would love to invite you to come over and do all this cooking I do with you. I’m sure I would end up learning more from you than I could offer you. 🙂

  3. Ivy

    Yes, you understood correctly Ning and P.G. This is cured and eaten raw but to tell you a secret, as I also got some reaction from the family I broiled it only for two minutes on each side and they were satisfied that it was not raw. I tried it raw and for me it was fine.

  4. Ivy, I’m so glad you chose Gravlaks. It seems fairly straightforward and it tastes so good. And…at least you don’t eat it with cabbage as so many of the other dishes 🙂
    Great Job!

  5. Ivy, I forgot to mention that I love that you set the dish down on a lace tablecloth. It looks so Norwegian to me. Nice photo.

  6. My MIL makes these and seh too eats them raw, but i have never tried them as it is raw.
    This looks yumm too.

  7. Good for you for preparing your own delicacy Ivy. This is very popular all around the world. Secretly I would broil it myself also. I am having trouble getting on to Blogger this morning so after quite a struggle and coming in through the “back door” I am here to see your accomplishment.

  8. Your smoked salmon is beautiful, and I love the flavors of lemon and dill together.

  9. This looks tasty, Ivy. I’ve never tried Gravlaks and you make it look very inviting. See you in Poland next?

  10. Hi, Ivy. I’m glad to see you experimenting with gravlax, one of my favorite foods. Because it “cures” in sugar and salt, gravlax doesn’t need cooking and, when finished, is no longer raw. Gravlax is something I make all the time and always have available in the refrigerator or freezer.

    I’m a little concerned by your recipe, because I don’t think 1 Tbsp. is enough salt to fully cure 1 lb. of salmon (for 1 lb. I wouldn’t use less than 2 Tbsp. salt and 2 Tbsp. sugar), especially because you recommend wrapping the fish tightly with plastic wrap. Without enough salt, this may create an environment in which bacteria grow that could make people sick. I only bring this up because of the food safety issue. Here’s my version of gravlax if you’re interested: http://medcookingalaska.blogspot.com/2008/01/recipe-gravlax.html

  11. Ivy

    Joan, thanks for this lovely culinary tour, I enjoyed it.

    Happy Cook, I try to eat something at least once to know how it is. I assure you it’s not bad, it’s just that we are not used to eating things raw.

    Hey sis, we are on the same wave line.

    Thanks Gloria, it left a lovely aroma.

    Thanks Gloria, shall try and meet you there as well.

    Laurie, the recipe isn’t mine and if you would follow the link I have given, I have followed the exact ingredients given in that recipe. I just noticed that there was a typo mistake, which I have corrected. We have eaten the gravlax (at least I did) raw and I am in perfect health. Thanks for your concern.

  12. This is one of my family’s favourite ways of eating salmon..besides raw. I also tried before with Szechuan peppers and with a touch of Orange juice. I’m a huge fan of Japanese’s sushi and sashimi! For Sashimi, seafood shouldn’t be left out more than 2 hours which will lead to contamination. Best if you can see/view the Taisho (sushi master) or staffs at work.I always checked the counter or serving area for cleanliness and how long the raw food was on the table. On the safe bet, I would wait for the fresh replacement.

    It’s not dangerous to eat Gravlax prepared this way 🙂 If not all Scandinavians will have been wipe out and so does the Japanese. This is better than Hákarl, the putrefied shark meat! Nevertheless, caution is the solution 🙂

  13. giz

    What a gorgeous and delicate dish. I’ve often seen the celebrity chefs make gravlox and although I’ve been frightened away by the salt, I’d still love to give it a try at least once.

  14. I love salmon, especially smoked salmon and am sure I would love Gravlax. Great choice Ivy.

  15. I love this culinary tour. Very informative.

  16. If you have the opportunity to make this again, I suggest adding a pinch of smoked paprika which renders the final product’s taste a bit more like traditionally cold smoked salmon.

    Nice Job!

  17. Excellent site, this really makes me hungry, can someone help me out here to cook Norwegian cuisine so i can prepare it to my family.

    • Fermented Foods

      haha yeah right, this site is pretty amazing. I love the food. Makes me crave 😉 Can you please share more healthy recipes here? Thanks much!

  18. This look amazing and I think is delicious. Wow, I must try this recipe. thank you for sharing it with us.