Dill It Yourself: How to Make Gravlax

gravlax with fixins

Perfect breakfast: gravlax with fixins

Hello friends! Awhile back we told you about our favorite Ridgewood meals of 2012. Arbitrarily coming in at #6 was gravlax, aka gravad lax, aka “buried salmon.” In other words, it’s traditional Nordic salt-cured salmon that resembles lox or smoked salmon. Why is gravlax so great, you might ask?

  • It’s easy to make at home.
  • It’s economical.
  • Most importantly, you really can’t buy good-quality smoked salmon, like the kind you’d put on bagels, anywhere in Ridgewood. Sorry, Mr. Bagel! You just can’t.

With that in mind, here’s a quick tutorial on making and serving gravlax in your very own Ridgewood home: 

Step 1: Order salmon from Fresh Direct (just bear with us here)

Some kind of premium, wild-caught type is essential, because do you really want to be curing raw salmon from Food Bazaar? (Though for general use, the Food Bazaar on Wyckoff has a solid selection of fresh-looking seafood.) We’ve tried both varieties of wild-caught salmon that Fresh Direct offers, and we prefer Coho; Sockeye has a nice rich flavor and beautiful reddish hue, but curing makes its flesh softer and more challenging to cut (odd note: all pics in this post are of Sockeye salmon). Read below for more Fresh Direct shopping tips!

Step 2: Assemble rest of ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • Black or white peppercorns
  • Dill
  • Vodka or aquavit
  • Lemon (optional, but recommended for appearance)
  • Juniper berries (optional)

You probably already have most of these ingredients on hand. Some non-traditional recipes call for coriander or brown sugar, but we don’t mess with that. You’ll end up with a lot of leftover dill for pickling (WE TOTALLY NEED TO DO A PICKLING POST), or add it to mashed potatoes, etc.

Step 3: Prepare the gravlax


This part is actually a snap because the ingredients and methods are very flexible. Check out Mark Bittman’s recipe or Saveur’s recipe or this other recipe that’s very close to ours. We suggest that you compare a few different recipes and add your own special touch! One factor you will need to decide is your personal sugar-salt ratio preference (we like 1 part sugar to 1.5–2 parts kosher salt, as described here).

To prepare the gravlax: Place salmon skin-side down on large piece of plastic wrap. Cover the salmon evenly with salt-sugar mixture, then sprinkle with vodka. Top with freshly ground pepper or peppercorns (your call: really just depends whether you want visible pepper in the final product), optional juniper berries, dill, and lemon slices. Wrap the whole thing in plastic, place in a baking dish, and refrigerate for 3 days.

Step 4: Slice and serve!

Our favorite way to eat gravlax is to make a nice plate with cream cheese, tomato, red onion, and capers, as pictured above. Serve with chewy Turkish pide bread (available at Europa or Parrot. BTW, Parrot also sells a pretty great homemade whitefish salad, which would be a nice addition to this spread). Other gravlaxibilities:

Gravlax canapés

Gravlax canapés

Frittata with gravlax, shallots, and dill

Frittata with gravlax, shallots, and dill

Tips for Ultimate Fresh Direct Shopping:

You might consider adding a few more “You Can’t Get That in Ridgewood” items to your cart, such as: Guittard chocolate chips, nice vanilla extract, white truffle oil, La Frieda beef, dry-packed scallops, D’Artagnan bacon, and grass-fed butter. Treat yourself to stuff that you’d otherwise have to schlep to Manhattan for — and Fresh Direct’s prices are actually pretty decent anyway.

We could write a whole post on how to pair these ingredients with Ridgewood-sourced foods, but a few quick tips for now: Martin’s sesame seed–studded “Big Marty” rolls (available at Food Bazaar on Gates) make excellent burgers and seared-scallop sandwiches (top with lemon zest and mayo); truffle oil tastes great drizzled on baked tater tots (available anywhere) and can be further fancied up with a homemade dipping suace; and this is the easiest and best blondie recipe ever.


6699 Forest Avenue [map]
(718) 821-3732

Food Bazaar

454 Wyckoff Avenue [map]
(718) 381-8338

Parrot Coffee and Grocery

5822 Myrtle Avenue [map]
(718) 821-2785

4 thoughts on “Dill It Yourself: How to Make Gravlax

  1. You KNOW I love me some gravlax, Ridgefood, but I like to dry it a little. After the curing phase, I soak it in icewater, pat it dry, and then put it on a rack, skin-down, on a cookie sheet in the fridge overnight. The result is a firmer, less squishy slab for thin slicing. This Food & Wine recipe spells it out and has a great salad accompaniment.

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