Make Your Own Gravlax

Top your everything bagel with fish, freshly cured with the same flavors.

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How to Make Gravlax

Gravlax is a traditional Scandinavian way of curing fish — it translates literally to “buried salmon,” since the fish used to be buried in the ground to cure. Now the fish gets buried in the dry salt-sugar cure.


Click here for the list of ingredients in the recipe.

The traditional gravlax cure is a 1-1 ratio of salt to sugar, along with spices, herbs and a splash of liquor. (Salt does the curing. Sugar balances out the saltiness. Spices, herbs and liquor add flavor.) 


Salt and sugar were a given, but the rest of the seasoning was up for discussion. This everything-bagel seasoning (dried garlic, dried onion, poppy seeds and sesame seeds) readies the gravlax for paring with your favorite sandwich bread. Mix together the salt, sugar, dried minced garlic, dried minced onion, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and zest. 

The traditional fish is salmon, but here we use cheaper and locally sourced arctic char. Char is a thinner fish than salmon, so it cures faster and doesn’t need to be weighted while curing.

Place the fish, skin-side down, on a long piece of plastic wrap. Splash with the vodka, then pack the salt mixture on top of the exposed flesh.

Wrap the fish well in plastic wrap, place on a baking sheet or baking dish and refrigerate for about 1 day.

After about 24 hours, remove the fish from the wrap, rinse it well and pat dry.

Slice the gravlax very thinly at an angle leaving the skin behind.

To make nice thin slices of gravlax, lay it skin-side down on a cutting board. Use a long, very sharp, very thin carving knife, preferably with a hollowed blade. Slice at a low angle from the skin, about 30 degrees up from the table, so that the slices are nice and broad. 

When slicing, apply downward pressure only when you push the knife — not when you pull it toward you. Leaving the skin on helps with cutting. Place the flat of your hand on the other side of the slice you are cutting. (Be careful.)

In an ideal world, you should be able to read the newspaper through each slice.

Serve on bagel chips topped with sour cream or cream cheese. The onion and garlic come through the most, but the flavor is still pretty delicate — what you really get is rich, buttery, almost-concentrated fish.

Garnish with extra poppy and sesame seeds to get the whole everything-bagel experience, along with a little textural contrast. Sliced scallions add a pop of color and even more onion flavor.

Get the Recipe: Everything Bagel Arctic Char Gravlax

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