Recipe: Make the Smorgas Chef’s Gravlaks


Morten Sohlberg, the chef-owner of Smorgas Chef at Scandinavia House, shares his recipe for the house gravlaks, a Scandinavian specialty of fresh salmon cured in salt, sugar, dill, and spices. The gravlaks is part of the new Dinner & a Movie special at Smorgas that includes, well, a three-course prix-fixe dinner and a feature film.

“The word ‘gravlaks’ literally translated means ‘salmon buried into the ground,’ a reference to the Middle Ages when Scandinavians would preserve salmon through the dry fishing season by salting it and storing it under the ground,” said Sohlberg. “This is very easy to prepare in any home kitchen. Wild-caught salmon is ideal, but any fresh salmon will work well.”

Smorgas Gravlaks

Yield: 10-12, appetizer portions

1 de-boned side of Norwegian salmon, skin on (approx 5 lbs.)
4 bunches of fresh dill, chopped coarsely
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups salt
1/4 cup whole fennel seeds
1/4 cup whole peppercorns
1/4 cup whole juniper berries
1/4 cup whole coriander seeds

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the spices, except for the dill, mixing well.

Cover the fillet generously with the dill. Press down firmly with your hands to pack the dill onto the fish. Distribute the spice mix over the fish, adding more mix where the salmon is thickest. Apply pressure. Wrap the fillet tightly in several layers of plastic. Place the fillet in a deep roasting pan. Add a heavy weight on top (like a 28 oz can of tomatoes, for example).

Let the fish cure in the refrigerator for 60 hours. Remove the fish from the roasting pan and scrape off all the dill and spices. Slice it into thin diagonal slices and serve with dill mustard sauce (recipe to follow). The gravlaks keeps well for up to two weeks when refrigerated.

Mustard Sauce for Gravlaks


Mustard Sauce for Gravlaks

Yield: 2 cups

6 tbsp sweet mustard
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
sugar, to taste (1-2 tbsp)
1-2 tbsp vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
2-3 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill

In a small mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients, except the oil. Mix well, and whisk in the oil until emulsified.