During the Middle Ages, gravlax was made by fishermen, who salted the salmon and lightly fermented it by burying it in the sand above the high-tide line. The word gravid lax comes from the Scandinavian word grav, which literally means "grave" (in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish), and lax (or laks), which means "salmon", thus grav lax ( or gravad lax )means "buried salmon". Today fermentation is no longer used in the production process. Instead the salmon is "buried" in a dry marinade of salt, sugar, and dill, and cured for a few days. As the salmon cures, by the action of osmosis.
- salting mix to cure one side of salmon
- 6 juniper berries
- 4 whole star anise
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 400g coarse sea salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 lemon, cut into rough chunks
- to finish freshly ground black pepper zest of 1 lemon handful of freshly chopped dill, chopped
- Clean, scale and pinbone the salmon
- Place all the spices for the salting mix into a food processor with 1 tablespoon of the sea salt.
- Pulse the mixture to break up the spices. Add the rest of the salt and the sugar with lemon, then pulse until the lemon is broken up and you have a uniform, coarse mixture.
- Scatter a layer of the salt and spice mixture at least 1cm thick into a container or ceramic oven type dish big enough. Place the fish on the salt. Scatter another 1cm layer of the salt mixture over the fish until all the salt is used up and the fish is covered.
- Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for 24 hours depending on the thickness. The fish will become quite firm and pale in colour,you can baste it with some of the juices once during the curing stage.(you can leave it longer if you like, up to 72 hours , but you have to soak it a little longer afterwards).
- Remove the fish and rinse under cold water. Soak in cold water for about an hour, changing the water every 10-15 minutes.
- Dry with kitchen paper.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the fish diagonally as thinly as possible. Season with black pepper and scatter the lemon zest and dill over the fish.