Scandinavian Gravad Fish


This classic Scandinavian dish works perfectly well with all kinds of fatty fish, including salmon, herring, mackerel, white fish and Greenland halibut. Learn how to make delicious Scandinavian gravid fish.

It is always generously flavored with dill. If possible, use whole fish with just the head and bones removed, the skin must be left on. You can have your fishmonger do this, or give it a try yourself. The important thing in filleting fish is a sharp knife, and patience; work slowly, using the tip of the blade as a finger, feeling your way through the flesh.

Scandinavian Gravad Fish
Scandinavian gravad fish is always generously flavored with dill

Related: Scandinavian Fish Roe

Scandinavian Gravad Fish
means a light salting, drawing moisture from flesh with a mixture of salt and sugar. The salting is not meant to preserve the fish for long, but long enough to allow a slight fermentation and add a depth of flavor.

The dill is not optional – it’s the only flavoring and it’s wonderful. The dill must be thoroughly cleaned in a large tub of cold water as the only risk of eating this lovely dish is from botulism bacteria from dirt. Keep all utensils absolutely clean and work with rubber gloves as fish is eaten raw.

Scandinavian Gravad Fish
Ot’s absolutely essential to use very fresh fish

It is of course, as with sushi, absolutely essential to use very fresh fish. The mustard sauce, along with rye bread, cold butter and lots of fresh dill, are perfect accompaniments, but you can also try it with new potatoes, butter and yet more dill.

You will also need a small rocky Swedish island, a keg of beer and a bottle of schnapps.

Related: Scandinavian Salted Fish

Gravad fish ingredients
1.25kg fatty fish fillet of your choice (skin on)

For the spice rub
4 tablespoons coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
300g dill, finely chopped

For the mustard sauce
100g Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons muscovado sugar
50ml whipping cream
50g dill, chopped
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Serves 6-8 persons

Scandinavian Gravad Fish
Gravad lax and schnapps

Gravad fish recipe
Wash and dry the fish. Mix together the spice rub ingredients. Choose a deep, non-corrosive dish and sprinkle a third of the spice mixture over the bottom. Place half of the fillets skin-side down on top, then sprinkle over another third of the spice rub and follow with the rest of the fillets, this time flesh-side down. Finish with another layer of the spice mixture.

Wrap the whole thing in clingfilm, then just pit a heavy board that fits neatly inside the dish on top. Place in the fridge.

Scandinavian Gravad Fish
The important thing in filleting fish is a sharp knife

After 12 hours, unwrap and dismantle everything and turn the fish over so the top becomes the bottom. Replace the clingfilm and board and let it sit for another 12 hours. While a total of 24 hours is sufficient for small fish, a large salmon will take 48 hours to cure, and needs to be turned over twice.

Eat very thinly sliced, within 3 days. The mustard sauce involves nothing more complicated than simply mixing everything together.

Related: Scandinavian Preserved Fish

Rimmad lax
Rimmad lax is basically the same as gravid fish: fish cured with the same rub of sugar and salt. However, the fish is cured for shorter time and tastes more like fresh fish. It is eaten as main course with dill creamed potatoes.

Scandinavian Gravad Fish, written by Tor Kjolberg