Salmon Beetroot and Dill Gravlax

Salmon Beetroot and Dill Gravlax

These past few mornings have been particularly unhospitable for new dog walkers like ourselves.  At an ungodly hour we bundle up in hats, scarves, gloves and holey thermals to traipse round a gloomy Finsbury Park, watching as the sun lazily climbs the sky.  The puppy loves to crunch his paws on the glittery leaves as we dangerously skid after him on icy puddles.  The forty minutes we are in the park London comes alive, as the trickle of hardened joggers and committed dog walkers are soon followed by the whoosh of hi-vis cyclists tempting puppy with the chase.  By 8am a gentle stream of commuters are taking the shortcut through the park on the way to the tube.  The morning may have arrived but it has not yet brought any warmth.

IMG_3095These frosted mornings have encouraged me to seek out comfort in classic cooking.  The bright fresh unfussy influence of Scandinavian recipes has been luring me in, shown off in photographs with the natural clear light you can only get in a Nordic kitchen.  I have been to neither Sweden, Norway nor Denmark but the urge to visit has been growing year on year and 2014 I think may be the year to finally splurge across the sea.

This salmon gravlax, a quintessential Scandinavian dish, is simple but very effective for special occasions.  It’s vastly preferred in our house to bought smoked salmon which can sometimes feel too greasy and overpowering.  But this salmon is delicate and richly flavoured and stunning with the blush of beetroot.


If you want to scale it down for a more intimate occasion then it can easily be done with a couple of salmon fillets and less of the cure.  The preparation takes next to no time then just a few days of sitting pretty in the fridge, so don’t feel like you have to wait for a feasting occasion.   Just so you know, valentines is around the corner.


Salmon Beetroot and Dill Gravlax

Adapted for quantities from Diana Henry’s Salt Sugar Smoke
Serves 12

1 kilo salmon fillet
6 tbsp vodka
125g granulated sugar
100g sea salt flakes
2 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
large bunch dill, roughly chopped
400g raw beetroot, grated

  1. Check the salmon for any bones that the fishmonger might have missed and remove.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the sugar, salt, pepper, dill and beetroot.
  3. Line a large dish, big enough to hold the salmon with two large layers of foil. Lay the salmon on top and sprinkle with the vodka, rubbing over to make sure it’s absorbed.
  4. Tip all the beetroot and dill mixture over and make sure the salmon is fully coated.
  5. Wrap the foil tightly over the salmon, tucking it in at all sides.
  6. Place in the fridge for 2-4 days, making sure to turn the salmon regularly so the cure reaches all of the salmon. If liquid seeps through the foil, just pour it off.
  7. Remove the foil and scrape the dill and beetroot off the salmon.
  8. Serve slivered finely with a pickled cucumber salad and rye bread.
  9. The salmon keeps well in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
salmon gravadlax