To make gravadlax, invest in a good middle piece of salmon fillet, or even a whole side, and leave the skin on. The most important thing is the freshness and quality of the fish, as well as the balance of the curing ingredients. Dill is the traditional herb, but punchy flavours such as fennel and coriander also work, or you might even want to try beetroot, or red cabbage.
Takes: 20 mins, plus 2 days freezing and 2-3 days curing
1kg salmon fillet (a side is usually around 1.3–1.5kg – if using a section, go for the middle)
2 tsp white peppercorns, crushed
1 tbsp gin, vodka or aquavit (optional)
2 bunches of dill (around 60g total)
For the dressing
2 tbsp Swedish mustard (ideally Slotts Skånsk Senap) or a good Dijon
4 tbsp dill, finely chopped
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp granulated sugar
100 ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil or olive oil
1 Freeze the salmon for 48 hours at -18C or colder; this kills most parasites, if any are present. Defrost before using.
2 Once the salmon is defrosted, check for bones by running clean fingers across the fleshy side and using tweezers to pick out any you find. Cut the salmon across the middle into two pieces.
3 In a bowl, mix together the salt, sugar and white pepper. Rub a bit of water and the alcohol (if using) over the fleshy sides of the fish, then rub in the salt mix. Ensure all the flesh is covered.
4 Place the chopped dill on top of one of the flesh sides. Place the other piece of fish, flesh-side down, on top (like a sandwich) and wrap the fish tightly in clingfilm. Place in a plastic bag in the fridge. Turn the bag over 2-3 times a day for the following 2-3 days to ensure the cure is even. The salmon is ready when the colour of the flesh becomes slightly translucent.
5 Unwrap the fish and discard the filling (it’s fine if a bit of stray dill remains, but it should be mostly clear). Place the salmon flesh-side down and carve into thin slices, cutting through the fish with the knife held at a slight diagonal.
6 For the dressing, combine the mustard, dill, vinegar and sugar in a bowl with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
7 Add the oil slowly, starting with a few drops and steadily adding a thin stream to emulsify the sauce. Whisk until you have a good creamy consistency (add a little more oil if too thick).
8 Serve the salmon with slices of lemon and the dressing, along with some crispbread or rye bread. The fish will keep for a couple of days, stored in the fridge.
Recipe excerpted from ScandiKitchen Christmas, by Brontë Aurell (£16.99, Ryland, Peters & Small)