Scandinavian Christmas Recipes – Gravlax with Mustard Sauce.

What does the Northwest Coast of British Columbia have in common with Swedish coastal communities? Salmon. What does that mean to the Scandinavians in BC during Jul? Gravlax med Senapssås, aka Gravlax with Mustard Sauce!

Here in British Columbia we’re lucky to be able to fish a variety of salmon like Spring, Sockeye, Coho and Chum just to name a few. Each species has its own unique characteristic and flavour. Perfect for gravlax.

Gravlax is a cured, or marinated, salmon dish that literally means ‘marinated’ (gravad) ‘salmon’ (lax) – gravad lax, or gravlax more colloquially. Unlike smoked salmon, Gravlax has a more delicate taste and texture and is easy to prepare. It’s usually served on special occasions, such as on a Julaftons Smörgåsbord!

Many families have their own recipe that’s been handed down from generation to generation, but it’s easy to find recipes for it online. The recipe below is from the cookbook “Aquavit and the New Scandinavian Cuisine” by Marcus Samuelsson. Enjoy!

NOTE: A word of caution
Buy only the freshest salmon. For food safety, it was recommended to me to freeze the salmon thoroughly before marinating. I’ve never NOT done it this way. The following recipe doesn’t recommend freezing it first, but you might want to research this to make sure you’re preparing the salmon as safely as possible. You don’t want to get sick, do you?

And now, without further ado, here’s a dish fit for the Vikings!

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1 cup sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons cracked white peppercorns
2 1/2 pounds skin-on salmon fillet, in one piece, any pin bones removed
2-3 large bunches fresh dill, coarsely chopped (including stems)

2 tablespoons honey mustard
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon cold strong coffee
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup grapeseed oil or canola oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

1. PREPARE THE GRAVLAX: Combine the sugar, salt, and peppercorns in a small bowl and mix well. Place the salmon in a shallow dish and rub a handful of the salt mixture into the meaty side of both sides of the fish. Sprinkle the salmon with the remaining mixture and cover with the dill. Cover the dish and let stand for 6 hours in a cool spot.

2. Transfer the salmon to the refrigerator and let cure for 36 hours.

3. UP TO 1 DAY AHEAD, PREPARE THE MUSTARD SAUCE: Combine both mustards, the sugar, vinegar, coffee, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream, blending until the sauce is thick and creamy. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the dill. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight, to allow the flavours to marry.

4. Scrape the seasoning off the gravlax. Slice the gravlax on the bias into thin slices, or leave whole so your guests can slice it themselves. Serve with the mustard sauce and bread.

Buy only the freshest salmon for gravlax; ask the fish market for sushi-quality fish. If wild salmon from the Pacific Northwest or Alaska is in season, so much the better; wild salmon has more flavour and a better texture than the farm-raised fish. There are several different varieties of salmon, most of which are in season in the late spring or in the summer. Look for wild salmon at good fish markets.

Gravlax will keep in the refrigerator, well wrapped, for at least 7 days. Leftovers can also be frozen, wrapped in plastic and then in foil, for up to 2 months.

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2 thoughts on “Scandinavian Christmas Recipes – Gravlax with Mustard Sauce.

  1. Tried this with organic dijon mustard from and some caper berries. Amazing! Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe!

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