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Like salmon? Then try gravlax

Don’t know what it is? Chef Rick Moonen shares his secrets for a holiday specialty from Sweden.
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Whether for brunch or as an hors d’oeuvre, gravlax is an appetizing addition to any party, and it’s surprisingly easy to make. Rick Moonen, chef of New York’s Oceana restaurant, shares his recipe for this Swedish specialty.


By Chef Rick Moonen

Oceana Restaurant

New York, NY

To cure 2 1/2-pound fillets of center cut farm-raised Atlantic Salmon (without bones or skin.) Fillets should be approximately 1 inch thick.

Procedure for making the wet marinade:

2 cup red onion juice (procedure follows)

6 oz. kosher salt (1 1/3 cup)

4 oz. sugar (2/3 cup)

freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 bunch fresh dill, chopped (1 1/2 cup chopped)

Mix ingredients: dissolve the sugar and salt into the onion juice. Add the pepper and 3/4 cup fresh dill and mix thoroughly to make sure the solids are dissolved. The brine will be very salty.

To marinade:

Using a clear casserole pan that fits the two fillets, place a quarter of the marinade into the pan. Lay both salmon filets side by side, belly down, into the pan and pour the remaining marinade over the top. The salmon should be just covered by the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap. (Alternate: place 2 fillets into a zip-lock bag, add the marinade, remove air before sealing the bag, and place into pan.) Place another pan (one that fits into the first) on top of the salmon, weigh it down with 2 1/2 - 3 lbs. of weight (or approximately 3 soup cans), and refrigerate for 24 hours. After 24 hours, remove the salmon filet from the brine and pat dry. Evenly distribute remaining 3/4 cup chopped dill on top of the filets and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

To slice the salmon fillets:

Place the fillet belly side up, where the dill is. Start at the tail end. You might want to ask your fish monger which side the tail end is when you purchase the fish.) Using a sharp slicing knife, slice on a bias (or angle) toward the tail end. The gravlax does not need to be sliced paper thin, yet you do need to prepare thin slices evenly, as in cold cuts. The end result should have a nice rim of chopped dill and a uniform shape.

To make the onion juice:

Feed 2-3 peeled and quartered red onions, with 1/4 cup water and 1 tablespoon salt into a food processor. Process until the juices run. Pass through a strainer and reserve the liquid. Do not be concerned if some of the solids get into the liquid. This is not a problem.

Copyright © 1998 by Rick Moonen. All rights reserved.