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Monday, September 26, 2011

Gravlax, cured salmon


Gravlax, pronouced as "Grov-lox', is the Scandinavian way of preserving fish with a mixture  of salt, sugar and dill weed.  It is not exactly the same as lox, which is cold smoked, cured fish. Gravlax requires minimal equipment to make, simply the basic pantry ingredients and a couple of days of waiting.

Ever since I heard about the existence of Snorre from ExtraVirginCook , I knew it would be the first step towards my gravlax experiment. So when hubby decided to take a day off to accompany bored me, we went to Snorre located at Jurong Fishery Port Road  for a date with the fishmonger, cold boxes and all.

The retail section was a smallish place, with limited fresh fishes but a eye-boggling array of all possible kinds of frozen seafood.

I was in seafood heaven !

I chose a smallish ( 4.2 kg ) farmed  Norwegian salmon for my gravlax project, with assurances that the air flown fish is absolutely fresh. The nice guy over the counter spent a careful 30 minutes or so, cutting up the fish and removing the pin bones, which I was extremely grateful for. Then, other than a quarter of the salmon that was left intact for my curing project, the remaining salmon was packed in 200g portions and vacuum packed.

One thing that struck me was the professionalism of the two counter staff, who did an excellent job meeting my demands and answering my questions. We ended our foray at Snore with a huge box of salmon  in sachets of vacuum packed dinner portions, ice packs, Maldon salt for curing and crispy rye bread , to go with the gravlax in 3 days' time.

The cured salmon was a huge success. The 3 of us consumed a quarter of a salmon in a meal ( Seriously ! ). My favorite part was the cured meat near the fish belly, which is much firmer and full of 'character'. Already, I have requests from the other two folks for cured trout and  halibut. Looks like another trip to Snorre is inevitable!

Drain off the brine and liquid before serving.

700g fresh  Norwegian salmon, skin on
1.5 cups Maldon sea flakes
1.5 cups fine sugar
2 handful dried dill

( The recommended fish-salt-sugar for this preparation is about 450g-30g-30g. I up the safety factor by using  150g of salt an sugar. One can never be too careful )

Remove pin bones of the salmon fillet.
Line cellophane to  a glass dish, big enough to accommodate the salmon.
Sprinkle  1 handful of dill on the base of the lined dish.
Mix salt and sugar well.
Coat all sides of the salmon with the salt-sugar mix.
Line half of the remaining salt-sugar on the pan evenly.
Place the salmon, skin side down.
Sprinkle the remaining salt-sugar mix on the flesh side of the salmon, covering the fish thoroughly.
Sprinkle another handful of dill over the salmon, now covered with salt-sugar.
Wrap tightly with cling wrap.
Put weights on the wrapped fish.
Chill for 3 days.

I left the liquid produced from the curing alone and drained it off just before preparing it for consumption.

To eat, wash off salt-sugar-dill. Pat dry and serve with crackers or bread. I saved 2 livers of cured salmon for a seafood pasta dish, which was also heavenly!

Yummy !


  1. Hope u dont mind me asking cos i wanted to know if i can afford it.
    1. What is the cost per kg of the salmon or how much did you pay for the 4.8kg salmon?

    2. You said you buy the Maldon salt for curing but the recipe shows Morton sea flakes. Are they the same thing? If so, what is cost n weight of the salt?

    3. After the salmon is cured, do you remove skin before eating
    thks alot for your advice n sharing of recipe :)

  2. Thank you for pointing out the typo. i have since corrected the error. It's Maldon sea flakes that I used, comes in 250g and costs SGD$6.30 but may be cheaper at NTUC Finest. Maldon sea flakes is from UK but Morton is from the US. I used slightly more than half of the sea flakes in the box.

    Morton is cheaper but I am not sure if Maldon is any superior. Some people says any course salt is OK , so it's your call... I did a taste test and find Maldon salty but not harsh.

    The Salmon cost SGD$19.50 per kg, and the exact wt comes up to 4.218 kg, which is SGD$82.25.

    To consume, I wash off the salt-sugar-dill,pat dry and used a very sharp knife to slice the flesh off the salmon. You can't really eat the skin, it becomes chewy ( I tried ). Regard the skin as a wrapper and discard it when the last sliver of salmon is consumed.

    Hope this helps!

  3. i appreciate your taking of time to help me with my questions. Will give it a try :)
    Perhaps i will use the NTUC Origins Coarse Salt or Korean coarse salt which i used to make my kimchi. But thks for telling me abt Maldon and Morton, i learnt something new :)

  4. Hey, so happy to see you've done it finally, after all that apprehension! I just read that Heston cures his salmon with tea leaves! Fancy trying that sometime soon?