Nordic Gravlax With Mustard Sauce

“Gravlax” literally means “buried salmon,” referring to the ancient practice of curing raw fish by burying it in sand by the seashore to be saturated and cured by ocean tides. And no smørbørd (open-faced sandwich) selection would be complete without this, one of Scandinavia’s most distinctive dishes. These days, fish is salted and seasoned, weighed down and refrigerated until cured.



  • 3 lb (1361 g) center-cut fresh salmon, skin on
  • ½ C (120 g) kosher salt
  • ½ C (16 g) sugar
  • 1 lg bunch fresh dill

Mustard Sauce

  • ¼ C (125 g) Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp (2 g) ground dry mustard
  • 3 Tbsp (36 g) sugar
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp (3 g) chopped dill


  • 2 Tbsp (2 g) chopped dill
  • Chopped red onion and capers for garnish
  • 1 lb (454 g) pumpernickel bread, thinly sliced



Cut salmon in half crosswise; place half skin-side down in a deep dish. Combine salt and sugar; rub evenly into fish. Place dill on top and cover with other salmon half, skin side up. Cover closely (right on top of fish) with plastic wrap and place a plate on top of plastic; weight down with heavy cans, and refrigerate 12 hours or so. Then, turn fish pieces over, basting with collected liquid; cover with wrap; again weight down with plate and cans; refrigerate another 12 hours. Repeat at least 2 days total (turning about every 12 hours and basting) or up to 3 days.

Mustard Sauce

Combine mustards, sugar and vinegar in a small bowl; drizzle and whisk in oil; stir in dill; chill.


Discard dill between salmon pieces, remove and drain salmon; place flat on an attractive cutting board suitable for serving. Sprinkle with chopped dill. Slice part of salmon in long thin slices, arranging on board next to remaining fish. Serve with mustard sauce, chopped onion and capers on the side with pumpernickel bread to make smørbørd.

  • Prep time: 6 minutes.
  • Makes 16 servings.

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