Pink, gin cured salmon (gravlaks)

Over the last few years this has been my go to recipe for entertaining, as it’s perfect as a canape or a starter. It’s vibrant colour, thanks to beetroot, easily wows guests without too much effort. I first came across gravlaks when traveling around Scandinavia, where it features in open-faced sandwiches mainly. So this can be served as a sandwich filling, on top of toasted bread or blini pancakes with crème fraîche and garnished with capers, dill or whatever you prefer. It can also be served as a starter, on top of cos lettuce and a dressing of your choice. As an interesting little piece of history, the name of this dish comes from the old method of curing salmon, by burying the salted fish hence the name gravlaks (Norwegian) or gravadlax/ gravlax (Swedish) meaning grave salmon, but thankfully this can now be wrapped up and popped into the fridge instead. It does take two days to cure, so be sure to factor this in. This can serve 10 people as a large starter.

Prep: 10mins, plus 48hrs curing time

Cook: No cooking


  • 1kg side of salmon
  • 150g salt
  • 75ml gin
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 1 large beetroot, grated
  • Large bunch of dill
  • 2 lemons


  • Place a layer of aluminum foil over a shallow baking tray that is big enough for the piece of salmon. Add layers of cling film over the foil, making sure that the cling film will be big enough to cover the salmon entirely.
  • Chop half of the dill and add this to a bowl with the salt, gin, sugar and grated beetroot; stir to combine.
  • Spoon enough mixture onto the cling film so that the skin side of the salmon will be covered. Rest the salmon, skin side down, on top of the cling film.
  • Spoon the remaining mixture all over the salmon, making sure that it is evenly covered on top and along the sides.

  • Completely wrap with cling film. Place into the refrigerator with an object to weigh it down.
  • In 24 hours, turn the salmon over.
  • In 45 hours, remove the salmon from the refrigerator. Remove cling film. Rinse the salmon under cold water.
  • Repeat the first step; cover a shallow baking tray with aluminum foil and cling film. Place the salmon, skin side down, on top of the cling film.
  • Finely grate the rind of two lemons. Chop the remaining half of the dill. Combine the two and place on top of the salmon. Cover with cling film and place in the refrigerator.

  • Remove the salmon when ready to serve, scrape off the lemon dill mixture prior to slicing. Serve and enjoy!

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