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Recipe File: Gravlax
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 11:34 pm    Post subject: Gravlax experience Reply with quote

I've followed this recipe twice now, using a food sealer both times. The first time it came out a bit peppery; possibly I mis-measured. The second time I cut the pepper in half and replaced the rest with caraway and it came out great. I used kosher salt and raw sugar both times, as I like the added flavor. There was very little liquid when I opened it, but almost all of the salt and sugar were dissolved and the dill was soaked, so that's where it went. I don't know how anybody else eats it, but we serve it the way we'd serve lox; with bagels and cream cheese.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:33 am    Post subject: Beetroot Gravlax Reply with quote

I love this recipe. We made something similar and made it with Beetroot. Very delicious and the colour is incredible:
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FlyCreek Minimalist

PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 6:03 pm    Post subject: Gravlax by Chu Reply with quote

This is a late post. Have used the original recipe for 2yrs. Now I buy Sockeye Filets ~1lb frozen & bagged direct from the Super. Put in freezer until needed. Take from freezer; open bag; take out filet; cover with your own prepackaged dill from squeeze tube; liquid smoke as desired; your own salt/sugar/pepper mix. Use washed index finger to spread. Put back in the original freezer bag. Seal with Foodsaver or other heat sealer, but squeeze out air. Skin side up for 8 hr, with weight, to thaw time. Fridge for 48 hr or more. Can flip as desired. Make sure filet is oriented N/S. (This is a Feng Shui addendum) Cut open bag. Rinse in cold water while in bag. Remove from bag. Dry in fridge for 6-8 hr, uncovered, perhaps on grid. Serve as desired. This is a NO MESS prep.
And thanks to Chu. Sanitary. All you have to do is wash that index finger.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 5:03 pm    Post subject: Gravlax Reply with quote

I've been making gravlax for years as salmon is plentiful in the Seattle area. My best product so far uses cilantro instead if dill. I've found that by adding a couple of tablespoons of lapsang souchong tea leaves (available from any good tea merchant) the finished product will have a lightly smoked flavor because the lapsang souchong tea leaves are smoked during drying.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2016 10:44 pm    Post subject: gravlax with smoke flavor Reply with quote

Thanks for the recipe and discussion. I used applewood smoked salt with the sugar and dill and enjoyed the slightly smoky flavor it gave my gravlax. Does anyone know if there's any reason why this shouldn't be done or if it would affect the cure? Thanks again.
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Joined: 19 Oct 2007
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Location: central PA

PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2016 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the question is regrets not at all clear.

why what shouldn't be done?
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 6:46 am    Post subject: Thanks! Reply with quote

I make this recipe all the time. It's distilled down to such a simple recipe. I buy a lot of salmon when it's on sale and make a bunch. Then I food saver seal it and freeze in 3 ounce portions and have them for breakfast. So good!

I make it pretty much exactly as per the recipe and it's amazing every time. Thank you for making it simple!
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Joined: 25 Feb 2017
Posts: 1
Location: Houston, Texas

PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 3:08 am    Post subject: Historic Origins of Gravlax Reply with quote

Gravlax, one of the easiest luxury foods to prepare. My version is fairly traditional with wild-caught salmon cured with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, fresh dill, caraway and toasted coriander seeds. After curing for three or more days I enjoy serving the gravlax with a dill-mustard sauce and fresh pumpernickel bread.

Entomologically, ‘Gravlax’ means ‘buried salmon’ or ‘grave salmon’. It is part of the wider family of the Scandinavian fermented fishes which includes Swedish surlax (‘sour salmon’) and Norwegian rakfisk (‘soaked fish’) [Falk and Torp, 1906].

Harold McGee explains that these techniques were used in remote places where huge quantities of fish were caught in a short period of time and where (and when) salt was a rare good [McGee, 2004]. The solution was to bury the clean and lightly salted fish in a ‘grave’ dug into the earth, add some carbohydrates (bark, whey or malted barley) and some antioxidants (pine needles or berries) [Levin and Al., 1964]. This traditional method creates the conditions for the lacto-fermentation process that preserves the fish. Enzymes and bacteria from the fish flesh would break down protein and fat to produce a buttery texture with a cheesy, ammoniated smell.

An ‘acquired’ taste as one would say, though not so pleasant to most of us nowadays.

In the Nordic countries, there are few if any modern adaptations of this traditional buried salmon. And while there are fermented fish products, like the pungent, sulphuric and ammoniated Swedish surströmming [Skara and Al, 2015; Valeri, 2010], it isn’t buried but rather sealed in a tin can.

I believe, based on the historical evidence, these preservation methods directly influenced how food was preserved in Iceland beginning in the age of the Vikings that with little modification, can still be experienced first-hand today. Iceland was settled primarily by Norwegians who brought their knowledge of preserving fish by burial with them from the mainland.

For centuries, Icelanders had to smoke, pickle or dry their food in order to preserve it through the harsh winters. As a result, the traditional Icelandic food mainly consists of seafood and lamb that's gone through some preservation method.

Icelandic hákarl is fermented shark flesh. When their Viking forebears settled the island centuries ago, Greelandic shark, which is abundant in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, became the main staple of the island. The problem with the Greenland shark, other than the fact that it is fairly ugly, is that the meat is toxic to humans.

At the time, it was one of the only sources of nourishment for the island’s small population, so to conserve as much food as possible, the resourceful Vikings developed a preservation technique like no other to purify the poisonous shark meat.

Kćstur Hákarl or hákarl for short, is prepared through a time-honored process. The same process used in Viking times is still used today.

First, the shark is beheaded.

Then, to eliminate poisons, such as trimethylamine oxide and uric acid (a compound found in urine), a shallow hole is dug in the sand and the hákarl is placed in it with stones, sand, and gravel placed on top. The pressure of the stones causes liquids to seep out over a period of 6-12 weeks, a time frame that allows the shark to ferment properly.

After this, the fermented shark; which is 24 feet long on average; is taken out of the ground, cut into long pieces and hung up to dry for several months.

Many hákarl preparers claim they know the meat is ready just by the smell and once a characteristic dry, brown crust forms. When the time is right, the pieces are taken down, the crust is removed and the meat is cut into slices and served and enjoyed by many.

Today to get hákarl, you don't need to bury your own shark, it can be purchased as a prepared food in Icelandic grocery stores.


Falk and Torp: "Etymologisk ordbok over det norske og det danske sprog", 1906

Levin, MG and Potapov, LP. (1964), The people of siberia, The university of chicago press, USA, p 595

McGee, H. (2004), Food § Cooking: an encyclopedia of kitchen science, history and culture, Hodder and Stoughton, UK, p235

Skara and Al, (2015), Fermented and ripened fish products in the northern European countries, Journal of Ethnic Foods, 2 (1), 18-24

Valeri, R. (2010), Surstromming, Sweden's famous fermented herrings, Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery. Oxford, England.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

oh boy. fixing up some fish left to rot in a trench really whets my appetite!

I think I'll stick with salmon and the fridge.
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Joined: 28 Apr 2018
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As long as you are using farm-raised salmon or wild salmon frozen to kill parasites, you can safely make Gravlax. Sushi Modern has a lot of good information on the subject:

The Sushi-Grade Myth

Make sushi from Costco Salmon

Which Sushi Fish have Parasites?
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Joined: 25 Jun 2018
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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