I can’t do the summer or the Festive Season without preparing a batch of Gravalax!

I am not partial to smoked foods so this is my alternative to smoked salmon.  The texture and the uses are similar to smoked salmon, but the flavour is more delicious!

Last year I brought you my Traditional Gravalax recipe (here)

This year I have simplified the traditional method by using zip lock bags. If you have a vacuum packing device the results will be even better and quicker as the vacuum process forces the cure to penetrate faster. Chefs use it to speed up the process from 3 days to just one day.

And I have experimented with 3 variations of cures.

A basic cure is a 50:50 mix of coarse sea salt, flavouring in the form of herbs, spices or zest and a splash of alcohol. Don’t use lemon or lime juice as it’s too acidic and denatures or ‘cooks’ the fish too much. During the curing process the salt and sugar leach out the salmon juices, leaving a firm textured flesh. It’s not as ‘raw’ as sashimi and has a shelf life of at least 10 days, if you can keep it that long!

For each I used about 400g Salmon but can use a smaller piece, or even a larger piece.  As usual you need to use the freshest salmon. Trim the flat belly area to use in another dish. Ideally the piece of fish should be even in thickness to get an even cure. I buy a whole or half fish, filleted and skinned. The thinner tail section and the ‘off cuts’ go into portions in the freezer.

The cures

Beetroot, Lemon Thyme and Vodka

For 400g salmon use:

250ml finely chopped cooked beetroot. If you wish you can buy the fresh (not bottled) ready cooked beetroot vinaigrette

Approximately 10ml lemon thyme leaves (you can use ordinary thyme, but the lemon one imparts a more delicate flavour)

125ml coarse sea salt

125ml sugar

20ml vodka


Dill with Lime zest, ground mixed Peppercorns and Mark’s Citrus and Spice Gin

For 400g salmon use

50ml chopped fresh dill

20ml finely grated lime zest

5ml mixed peppercorns, crushed

125ml coarse sea salt

125ml sugar

20ml citrus infused or mildly spiced Gin; or plain Gin


Dill or Fennel with Fennel seeds and Gin

For 400g salmon use

50ml chopped fresh dill or fresh fennel

5ml fennel seeds

125ml coarse sea salt

125ml sugar

20ml Gin

To prepare


Place all the cure ingredients in a zip-lack bag.

Add the fish and ‘massage’ it lightly to evenly coat the fish with the cure mix.

Place the bag in the fridge for 3 days. Turn it every 4 or 5 hours….. and less regularly at night!

After 3 days, remove the fish from the bag and scrape the cure ingredients away. Rinse the fish under ice cold water for a few seconds to remove excess cure.

Wrap the fish in plastic wrap and refrigerate until required.

To serve, cut 2-3mm thick slices

Serve as you would use smoked salmon as a snack or with salad. We have savoured every morsel and we could not choose a favourite.