Gravlax with dill sauce, or graved laks med dild sovs in Denmark, is probably the most elegant and beautiful offerings you could serve for a grand occasion or an intimate smorbrod buffet of open faced sandwiches and aquavit with friends. It is remarkably easy to prepare and is always the centerpiece for an evening of good food and hearty reveling Danish style.
Making gravlax is an age old Nordic curing process for freshly caught raw salmon using a dry rub of salt, sugar, and dill weed which produces a brine that tenderizes and intensifies the sweetness of the salmon. The cured salmon is then sliced paper thin, layered atop lightly buttered slices of rustic rye rogbrod, and drizzled with dill sauce, and ready for savoring the sublime results of Scandinavian culinary ingenuity.
Gravlax with Dill Sauce: serves up to 20
- 1 center cut of very fresh Norwegian salmon, skin removed
- ¼ cup course sea salt
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 ¼ tablespoons coarsely ground white peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons Aquavit (Danish snaps)
- 2 bunches fresh dill, leaves picked off the stems
- Garnish: freshly cracked white pepper dill fronds paper thin lemon rounds
- Choose a large glass or porcelain dish that will hold the salmon with room to spare.
- To weight the salmon, wrap a large heavy brick with foil.
Split the salmon down the center lengthwise and remove any remaining bones. Combine the salt, sugar, and pepper, mix together, and scatter about a third of the mixture evenly over the bottom of the dish. Top with a third of the dill leaves.
Pat the salmon completely dry with paper towels and place one piece of the salmon in the dish. Sprinkle another third of the curing mixture over the top of the salmon and add another third of the dill leaves over the top. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the Aquavit evenly over the salmon.
Place the second piece of salmon directly over the first piece salmon and press it down firmly. Scatter the remaining curing mixture over the top of the salmon and top with the remaining dill leaves and sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of Aquavit over the top.
Place a sheet of cling film loosely over the salmon and place the brick centered over the salmon and press down firmly. Secure the cling film over the edges of the dish and transfer to the refrigerator and allow to cure for 24 to 48 hours, flipping the salmon and basting with the brine every 12 hours or so.
When ready to serve, remove the salmon from the dish and scrape off the dill and curing mixture and pat the salmon dry with paper towels. Place on a cutting board and using a very sharp knife slice the salmon paper thin, cutting at a 45 degree angle diagonally across the salmon.
Arrange the sliced salmon on a non-reactive serving tray and garnish with freshly cracked pepper, dill fronds, and paper thin slices of lemon.
Gravlax is traditionally serve with lightly buttered rye bread slices, leafy greens, dill sauce, lemon rounds, and capers.
Dill Mustard Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 small shallot, grated
- 1 or 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon sour cream or Greek yogurt (optional)
Place the mustard, grated shallot, sugar, red wine vinegar, and salt in a food processor or blender and pulse several times to combine. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a slow steady stream and process until the sauce thickens.
Stop the machine and add the chopped dill and pulse several times until well combined. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt if needed. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and fold in the sour cream or Greek yogurt until blended in. Refrigerate until ready to serve.