Homemade Gravlax (Copper River Sockeye Salmon)

It’s all about the quality of the fish.

I received my second shipment of Copper River Salmon this week. If you missed my first post explaining the background of this beautiful, luxurious salmon from Alaska, check it out here.

Last month I got Copper River King salmon, which is prized for its fatty, succulent flavor. It was seriously the best salmon I’d ever had in my entire life. This month I got a shipment of Copper River Sockeye salmon, a fish known for its naturally deep red hues and intense flavors.

I had two fillets, so I decided to try something a little different this month.

Why not try making my own house-cured salmon?

Wow. So easy to make, yet so elegant and fancy at the same time. This dish presents beautifully and takes only about 15 minutes of active work to prepare. It’s simple, popular with guests, and super enjoyable to eat.

First thing’s first – make sure your salmon is really really FRESH! I cured mine the day I got it. Just remember, you won’t be cooking this at all! Treat it as you would any other raw fish.

There are countless ways you can make cured salmon. At a minimum, you need salt and sugar. The rest is just flavoring agents. This particular version uses citrus zest alongside a 1:1 mixture of coarse salt (e.g., sea salt or kosher salt) and sugar.

Remove the skin on a 2 lb filet and cover both sides with the zest/sugar/salt mixture. Cover up with foil and weigh down the salmon with something heavy (e.g., jars, cans) for at least 8 hours.

When you open it, you’ll notice that the salmon lost a lot of water! Osmosis!

Rinse the salmon well and dry. The curing process deepens the already unusually red hue of the Sockeye salmon. The filet itself becomes much denser.

Take your sharpest knife and slice thinly at a diagonal against the grain.

Serve with your favorite toppings. We tried a mixture of either a dill sour cream mix or creme fraiche and caviar. Both were absolutely fantastic. For even more detailed step-by-step pictures of this entire process, check our my original post on this recipe.

Citrus Gravlax
Serves 8-10
1/2 cup coarse salt (I used sea salt)
1/4 tsp freshly-ground white pepper
1/2 cup sugar
1 salmon filet, skin removed – (around 2 lbs)
1 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
1 1/2 tsp grated lime zest
1 1/2 tsp grated grapefruit zest

Remove skin from the filet. Set aside this skin for another purpose. Combine salt, pepper, sugar, and zest in a bowl and mix well. Line a large tray with foil. Spread out half of the mixture onto the foil. Place the salmon on salt mixture. Cover the other side of the filet with the remaining mixture. Wrap tightly and put weigh down with another tray, preferably filled with heavy jars or cans. Let marinade overnight (or at least 8 hours).

Remove salmon from marinade (a lot of liquid will have come out). Rinse under cold water and pat dry. Thinly slice and serve with crackers, creme fraiche, and (optionally), caviar. Alternatively, serve with a sour cream/dill dip.


Salmon with Prunier caviar and Cloumage creamy cheese curds

House cured gravlax with sour cream and dill

I received the salmon filet for free from the Copper River Salmon Association.

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  1. says

    I too made gravlax with part of this shipment (we also tried our hand at a hot smoke–that needs a little tweaking) and this fish is perfect for it. What I really like about the process is that you can play around with herbs and spices and no two have to be identical.

    Beautiful photos!

  2. Peter S. @ Timy Urban Cellar says

     It’s actually not bread, it’s Lesley Stowe raincoast crisps (cranberry and hazelnut crackers).  Most amazing crackers, but they are pricey  You can get it at Whole Foods. 

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