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Gravla​​x |Fresh and Succulent​ |


We have been enjoying this Gravlax recipe for over 40 years. There are two main reasons. It’s very easy to make and practically foolproof. The most important reason is that the dish is absolutely delicious.

Gravlax is salt-cured salmon popular in Scandinavian cuisine. Some, are made with vodka. I have amended the recipe over the years and prefer to use Gin rather than vodka. With the many artisan Gins being produced at the moment you can add a real depth of flavour to the dish.

Our Gravlax recipe comes from an old Jewish friend in Johannesburg. When I came to make the dish the ingredients listed one clean house brick wrapped in foil. It confused no-end. I thought she had been drinking until Ivan explained it was needed to press the salmon so it absorbed all the flavours. I still giggle every time I make it!


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By Marc Spendlove-Kruger Serves: 16
Prep Time: 30 Minutes Cooking Time: 0 Min

Gravlax is salt-cured salmon popular in Scandinavian cuisine. Some, like this one, are made with vodka. I have amended the recipe over the years and prefer to use Gin rather than vodka.


  • 1kg (2 1/4 lb) salmon fillet, bones removed
  • 4 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons light brown soft sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 Bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons gin



Drape cling film over a glass baking dish.


Cut salmon in half lengthwise, and place one half in dish, skin side down.


Mix together salt, brown sugar and pepper.


Sprinkle half of the mixture over salmon in the dish, cover with the chopped dill, parsley and pour the gin over the whole mixture.


Sprinkle the remaining salt mixture over the remaining half of salmon.


Place over the salmon in the dish, skin side up.


Fold the cling film snuggly over the entire salmon and make sure it doesn't leak.


Place a plate over the fish and weigh it down with a heavy object. (The foil covered house-brick works well)


Refrigerate fish for 24 to 36 hours, turning every 12 hours.


To serve, separate the fillets.


Cut into very thin slices with a sharp knife.


Serve the gravlax in thin slices on lightly buttered toast, dark pumpernickel or crackers, drizzle a little of the sauce and garnish with a slice of lemon and a sprig of dill. Or serve all pieces on separate plates and everybody can make their own gravlax crackers with the sauce.

This is a great dish to serve as an appetiser before Herb Roasted Lamb |You Won’t Eat Better Than This |

Wine Matching

Gravlax is full of flavour so it needs a really nice dry wine (or even a chilled dry sherry). This combats the oiliness of the salmon really well. We chose a Roblin Sancerre Origine 2017. Sancerre is the ultimate in Sauvignon Blanc. You get a big mouthful of wine that has the hallmark zest and minerality for which the Sancerre appellation is famous for. Crisp, concentrated and textured, Sancerre is the perfect match for fresh, delicious seafood, or gooey goats cheese. It also goes surprisingly well with flavoursome Asian dishes. Available from Naked Wines

Gravlax, Lox or Smoked Salamon Learn the Difference

Lox, gravlax and smoked salmon—all delicious and, despite how similar they look, they’re all different. How? Let’s start with lox. Originally derived from the Yiddish word for salmon (laks), lox is never cooked. You make it by taking a fillet from the salmon’s belly and curing it in a salty brine. Gravlax is similar, but instead of simple salt brine, the traditional Nordic recipe calls for a cure with three ingredients: salt, sugar and tons of dill. (Optional additions include juniper berries, horseradish and aquavit or vodka.) Finally, Smoked salmon is similar to lox (it’s salt-cured, usually without much sugar), but there are two big differences: It can come from any part of the fish (not just the belly) and, of course, it’s smoked (either cold-smoked, which leaves it with a raw texture similar lox or gravlax, or hot-smoked, which results in a firm, flaky texture).

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