How to Make Gravlax: Salmon Season

Gravlax at home: You know you want to, this cured salmon deserves a place atop crackers and cheese, topping off your morning bagel, in place of the Canadian bacon on your eggs benedict (this please, over and over again). Get the how-to.
How to Make Gravlax: Salmon Season via

This thing I do, life, sometimes I am terrible at it. I fail.

More often than not, actually.

My house is in shambles. It has reached and then exceeded the acceptable level of dirt and grime for accommodating four children beneath its shingles. There are piles. There are smears. There are spiders living in plain sight, just hanging out in the corner and mocking me.

I am not proud.

Today I missed Kjell’s last baseball game of the season. I ignored the dining room linoleum, spotted with berry juice and dead grass tracked in from the back door by bare feet, slick from the pool. I piled unfolded laundry high on the couch so not even the smallest of bottoms could fit on a cushion. I bit my tongue until it bled, tinny on my taste buds.

When I wanted to cry, I laughed with my children instead. When I wanted to make excuses, I walked out the door with my daughters to do my familial responsibility with my mom and sisters, sending my boys to baseball alone. When I wanted to sleep, I sat awake making up for time lost to life that lingered.
How to Make Gravlax: Salmon Season via

My garden, it looks like that, but what photos fail to emphasize is that my grass is rather spotty. There is a mud pit beneath the swing set. Creeping Charlie crawls from the flower beds, threatening daily to squeeze the life out of the more desirable plants I put there and leave only its green self with tiny purple flowers in their place. I weed far too infrequently because I have to choose my battles, and Mount Laundry is often more compelling.

That is the real. My brain resets on real every night.

I’m not complaining. Life is real: saturated with all the colors of living, and not just the sparkling ones.
How to Make Gravlax: Salmon Season via
You think the grass will be greener on the other side, if only, when. Don’t you ever get sick of the fake? Let’s consider for a moment, farmed salmon to its classier, GMO-free cousin, the wild caught. The wild caught is brighter, the red flesh glistening, singing praises of a life well swam. A life wrought with the search for food, predators, droughts, rocks, and tight corners. The farmed, pale and plump with corn belly, sometimes dyed to give the appearance of that life well swam it most certainly did not swim. The proverbial grass is certainly not greener on the other side of this equation, the fancy, technology-laden farmed unable to sustain without consequences and lacking the luster of the real deal.
How to Make Gravlax: Salmon Season via
Let’s live a life worth living, full of ups and downs, knowing the brightest patches of grass are greenest on account of the creeping vines. Let’s live a life peppered with fresh wild salmon, frozen when it’s not running. Let’s live a life full of frozen berries and seasonal produce. Let’s stop feeling so entitled to have what we want immediately when we want it.
How to Make Gravlax: Salmon Season via

On Gravlax:

  • Fun fact! Gravlax or gravad laks or gravad lax or graflax comes from the words for grave and salmon. Gravlax is grave salmon on account of burying it in sand and salt or, here, sugar and salt.
  • We used a lovely fatty chunk cut off a larger King salmon for this. The King’s firm texture made it ideal for curing and then slicing.
  • The post-cure rinsing and soaking did wonders for achieving the desired flavor for gravlax. Our first attempt, which included rinsing but not soaking left the salmon a bit too salty. Soak it.
1 lb King salmon fillet
1/3 cup pickling salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh dill

Rinse the salmon fillet and pat dry. Remove all pin bones that may remain with a pair of pliers. In a small bowl, mix together the pickling salt and the sugar.

Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter. In the center sprinkle 4 tablespoons of the salt and sugar mixture. Place the skin side of the fish on top of the salt and sugar. Use the remaining salt and sugar to coat and cover the sides and top of the salmon.

Place the dill over the top of the fish. Wrap the plastic wrap around the fish tightly, leaving one end side open for drainage.

Place the wrapped salmon fillet on a cooling rack-lined baking sheet and place in the refrigerator. The cooling rack will lift the salmon above the draining liquid. Place another baking sheet on top to lightly weigh the salmon down.

After 24 hours, flip the salmon to the opposite side. Wait another 24 hours before unwrapping. Discard the dill and rinse the salmon under cold water. Then submerge the entire fillet in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes.

Remove the salmon from the water, pat dry, and slice thin to serve. Store unsliced portions of the fillet tightly wrapped in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 pound gravlax.
Copyright © Food for My Family.

The lovely people at Alaska Seafood are kind enough to send me some fish now and again. They certainly don’t supply me with an income, and they don’t force my hand in writing or tell me what to write. I get to do all that on my own. I like salmon. I like it cured. I also like it smoked, grilled, blackened, and raw. And I like it wild and full of life.


  1. I totally know how you feel, but I’ve come to accept that this imperfect life is perfectly fine for me.
    Hugs to you!

  2. This looks really good! I love salmon pretty much any way it comes too!

  3. Oh goodness, are you me? I am constantly so frozen by my inability to be perfect that I end up being even less perfect because I never get anything done! This gravlax looks amazing – I have to make some soon x

  4. I’m sure many can relate to your post. Love the realism here. It’s not always perfect and that is OK.

    On another note, can’t imagine life without gravlax!

  5. Yum! This looks perfect 🙂

  6. This looks so good. I love the idea of making it at home!

  7. I always think the grass is greener – but then, we don’t actually have any grass in our yard, so it’s a futile comparison! Sigh. At least I can sit on my deck, surrounded by inept landscaping, and eat my gravlax in peace every morning. That’s what counts.

  8. Beautifully spoken Shaina…my house is totally a mess, and I’ve learned to let things roll as much as possible. With a house full of boys, it’s just the way it is. I’d make gravlax and ignore the mess like you ;).

  9. Thanks for being real. 🙂 And the salmon looks fabulous!

  10. I think you just described our house to a T, as well. Only you’re much more ambitious than I am with the salmon!

  11. Shaina,

    Soooo beautiful! The writing, the photography, just gorgeous.

    Oh, and I am so feeling you on the real life stuff.

  12. I love when you keep it real Shaina!! and this salmon looks amazing!

  13. Love everything about this, Shaina. I think every mother has to pick their battles and decide what needs their attention most each day. More often than not, the house and the yard lose at my house. I’m ok with this. The salmon looks delicious– I need to make it soon!

  14. I keep meaning to try this, ever since I saw it on Brian’s blog too. I love salmon in every way, shape or form and I agree, wild caught is the only way to go!

  15. I’m OBSESSED with gravlax. I could eat cured salmon any time, any place. Screw it… I don’t even need it to be cured. But it sure makes it a bit tastier.

  16. I absolutely love salmon but have never prepared it this way. Looks like I need to find a good fresh fish place in Western Mass!

  17. I hear you, loud and clear. We’re embracing life this summer, and my boys frequently leave the house with mismatched outfits because of it. Laundry be darned.

    What gorgeous salmon. I purchased wild salmon just yesterday and grilled it for friends. Everyone was exclaiming over the color. Well, that’s what color the real deal IS!

  18. Having 3 boys and living on a ranch where grass is the least of the nasty things they track through my house, I have come to terms with the mess. Plus I feel there is more to life than cleaning house. Love this salmon and I had no idea Gravlax was so simple.

  19. I am in LOVE with the juxtaposition of the beauty and simplicity of that dish and photos and the description of real life. OMG you rock!!

  20. Lovely post, Shaina. And that gravlax…mmmmm…

  21. Oh how well I remember those times with a young child, mountains of laundry, and a house that needed a scrub. But do you know what? It all works out in the end. And I promise you’ll never regret leaving the cleaning in order to spend more time with your children. Promise.

    And the gravlax?!? Oh, my. This is something that I’ve had on my recipe bucket list forever. I just need to go ahead and make it, don’t I? So simple and so delicious!

  22. I so very much like you. And this salmon.


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