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By , from the Naomi O’Leary collection
Serves 12
Total Time 4 days


Gravlax literally means “buried salmon.” It’s a tradition that dates from the Middle Ages, when fishermen would salt their catch and preserve it by burying it in sand above the high-tide mark. It remains a favorite across Scandinavia, and it’s wonderful when eaten with mustard or horseradish sauce as smørrebrød. This recipe comes from Danish deli owner Adam Aamann.



1 whole fillet (2 pounds) of salmon, ideally wild-caught or organically farmed
pt. aquavit (preferably dill-flavored)
6 Tbsp. sea salt
5 Tbsp. granulated sugar
Tbsp. dill seeds
1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
2 pinches of freshly ground black pepper


1 large bundle of fresh dill
~ Sweet and strong mustard
~ Horseradish
~ Herb mayonnaise
~ Apples
~ Salad
~ Danish Rye Bread


  1. Clean the salmon fillet, removing the bones and fat but leaving the skin on. Dry the fish with a clean cloth.
  2. Put the aquavit, salt, sugar, dill seeds, coriander seeds, and pepper into a food processor and grind the mixture into a paste. Rub the paste all over the fish. Place the fish, skin side up, on a tray, and cover with plastic wrap.
  3. Put the fish in the refrigerator for two to four days, turning the fillet over once each day to ensure it cures evenly.
  4. When ready to serve the gravlax, finely chop some fresh dill and sprinkle it evenly over the fillet. Slice the fillet into thin cuts with a sharp knife. Serve with thin, toasted slices of rye bread and a variety of spreads (horseradish, herb mayonnaise, and mustard) as well as salad and apples.

Related article: The Danish food revolution

This content is from the Naomi O’Leary collection.

There is 1 comment on this item
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100% recommend this recipe
1. by anna Koller Eady on Sep 14, 2011 at 5:03 PM PDT

I am Danish born and have lived, since 1946 in Britain and - for the last 20 years - in New Zealand.My favourite way of entertaining has always been to serve smørrebrød (with beer and aquavit), to the delight and praise of my guests. How nice there is now a revival of this typical Danish meal.

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