Wednesday, 2 January 2013


This recipe comes from my mother's own recipe book. It was two years ago to the day that she died and this was one of the things she would always make at Christmastime when "Turn the gravlax!" became a twice-daily used expression, whether as a command or an intention.

Since then, making the Christmas Gravlax has been my brother Will's task. The photograph is of a plate of his, from Christmas just past.

I think it must have been Lotta, the family au pair and still dear friend, from Sweden, who stayed with us in 1982 - 1983, who introduced her and us to it. Sometimes I see it in recipe books written as "Gravadlax", sometimes as "Gravlax". Mum's recipe, then, exactly as she wrote it down, but whether this is from her head or copied from a Swedish recipe book, I am not sure. The last line (plainly her own view) was clearly added much later.

2 1/2 lb salmon trout,
20 peppercorns,
6 tablespoons salt,
4 tablespoons sugar,
2 oz dill leaves (chopped) (fresh if poss).

For sauce:
3 tablespoons French mustard,
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar,
3 tablespoons oil,
salt, pepper and sugar to taste,
3 tabespoons finely chopped dill leaves.

Split fish in two and bone. Crush pepper corns, mix with salt, sugar and dill. Sprinkle third into dish. Lay on a fillet of fish, skin side down; spread another third of dry marinade, cover with remaining fillet skin side up and pack remaining marinade over and around. Cover with cling film and weight. Leave in fridge or cool place for 36 - 48 hours turning every 12 hours. Will keep one week in fridge.

When fish has completed marinating, will be surrounded by liquid. Drain fish and scrape any solids left from marinade away. Cut horinzontally into wafer thin slices. Fold into pretty curves on serving dish. Serve with rye bread, lemon wedges and mustard and dill sauce.

Don't bother about peppercorns or sauce! Serve with lemon segments.

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