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Gravlax and smoked salmon starter recipe

Gravlax and smoked salmon starter recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Starters
  • Seafood starters
  • Fish starters
  • Salmon starters

For this festive starter, slices of smoked salmon are filled with a gravlax creme fraiche mixture. See the footnote for details.

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IngredientsServes: 4

  • 400g gravlax (or fresh salmon)
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 150ml crème fraîche
  • 1 onion, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 bunch dill, minced
  • pepper
  • 4 slices smoked salmon
  • alfalfa, lamb's lettuce or rocket
  • chives

MethodPrep:25min ›Ready in:25min

  1. Cut gravlax in 1cm pieces. Add it to a bowl and mix with shallots, crème fraîche, lemon juice, soy sauce, horseradish, dill and pepper.
  2. Place the smoked salmon slices flat on a large plate. Divide the gravlax mixture evenly among the four slices and place it in the centre of each. Fold the slices like an envelope by starting with the two long sides then folding over the two narrow sides. Secure with toothpicks.
  3. Place the salmon packets with the seam side down on a bed of greens on each plate. Garnish with two chives on each. Serve chilled.


To make your own gravlax, see the recipe here .

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How to make the perfect gravadlax

Would you cure your own salmon, are dill and Dijon mandatory, and which other healthy yet delicious foods are getting you through the dark days of January?

Felicity Cloake’s perfect gravadlax. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/Guardian

Felicity Cloake’s perfect gravadlax. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/Guardian

Last modified on Tue 9 Jul 2019 09.47 BST

For many of us, January is a sober culinary month after the excesses of Christmas – but gravadlax is glowing pink proof that healthy eating doesn’t have to be all hairshirts and low-fat hummus.

This Scandinavian buried salmon (a term that would have been pleasingly intelligible to our own ancestors, “lax” being the Middle English word for that mighty fish before the Normans came along and introduced the Latinate salmon, and “grave”, of course, persisting to this day) is a relic of the time when fish was put into holes in the ground and covered in salt to preserve it for the wild and freezing winter ahead – no doubt something similar was practiced on these isles, too.

Fortunately, there’s no need to get out into the garden with a spade. It is incredibly quick to make and, as Diana Henry observes in her book on the art of preserving, Salt, Sugar, Smoke, curing fish is one of the “most calming things you can do in the kitchen”. Simply add the rub to the salmon and leave it to work its magic in the fridge for a couple of days, then brush off, slice and arrange – it really is as easy as that. Best of all, making it yourself is so much cheaper than buying it that this recipe also ticks the new year’s thrift box.

Salmon tartare with lemon and capers

If you love serving smoked salmon for a starter, this salmon tartare is a great modern twist. Finely chop the salmon and toss it in a fragrant dressing of lemon, shallots and capers. Serve with thin slices of melba toast.

Published: October 8, 2015 at 7:23 pm


  • shallot 1, finely diced
  • lemon 2, 1 juiced 1 cut into wedges
  • skinless salmon fillet 400g
  • smoked salmon 200g
  • dill chopped to make 2 tbsp
  • nonpareille capers 2 tbsp, rinsed and drained
  • Dijon mustard 1 tbsp
  • crème fraîche 1 tbsp
  • lemon oil or olive oil
  • melba toast to serve


Put the shallot in the lemon juice and leave to soak. Cut the salmon into tiny cubes and finely chop the smoked salmon. Put all the fish into a bowl, add the dill, capers, mustard, crème fraîche, 1 tbsp lemon or olive oil and the shallot and juice. Fold it all together and season with black pepper and salt if needed. Serve in neat rounds with melba toast and lemon wedges on the side, and drizzle with a little more lemon oil.

Blini with smoked salmon (or gravlax)

Blini are a staple at pretty much any excuse for a party in Russia. And it's easy to understand why. These little pancakes, topped with smoked salmon and sour cream, make elegant and delicious little bites fit for any occasion.

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I know I've often talked about my time in Spain and a few times about Germany, but not so much Russia. It's not that it didn't make an impression on me - quite the opposite - but food was less often a selling point, as I talked about when I shared my borscht recipe.

There definitely are some tasty Russian recipes, but they can be a little hard to seek out. Blini, however, are something you find all over.

I've been to Russia a number of times in a few guises, and pretty much every time we gathered in some way, we had blini. You get different toppings, with caviar being a common one, or other seafood such as smoked salmon, but sour cream ('smetana') was pretty much always there in some way.

I remember having them the first time I went to Russia and we had a mini party at the end. We'd had some food during the camp that was a bit hard to get used to, so these were a pleasant treat. The flavors are mild, but they're great to snack on, and alongside a drink. Which was just as well that time as we all needed to make a toast, individually, in traditional style.

How to make blini

Traditionally blini are made with either all buckwheat flour or part buckwheat, part regular flour as I have here. Often, these days, they are made purely with all purpose flour. While that saves hunting down a less common flour, I do think the buckwheat helps give a gently distinct flavor.

You'll find some versions going more the route of more familiar pancakes using baking powder/soda, but yeast is another part of what gives them their flavor, I think.

Buckwheat flour comes in a couple of different shades, which is why you might think theses are darker than you might expect. Technically the dark flour is better nutritionally, but it is a little coarser, so use what you can find or prefer.

You could easily use smoked salmon here, but I've actually used some gravlax, partly as I'd made some but also I love the flavor here. The slight sweetness and dill from the cure mixture works well wit the blini and sour cream.

These blini with smoked salmon or gravlax are an easy and elegant finger food. They're at the middle of any Russian party table for a reason, as they both look the part and taste great too. Give them a try and you'll see what I mean.


A traditional Scandanavian method of preserving fresh salmon, thin, luxurious, silky slices of gravlax make a glamorous starter, or an hors d’ouevre topping alternative to smoked salmon. There are many recipes to make gravlax, I have tried several.

From experience, too much salt will make the salmon hard but too little and the salmon will be “fishy”. I have tried making gravlax with whiskey, gin and vodka. The white spirits, which don’t overpower the subtle salmon flavour are my choice. If I use gin I add crushed juniper berries to the cure, and replace the lemon thyme with dill, for a more traditional gravlax better suited to a cooler climate.

This gravlax formula is the result of much refinement, a perfect balance of salt, sugar and citrus, a fresh complement to delicious fresh Tasmanian salmon.

A whole side of Gravlax makes a great centrepiece for a lunch buffet. It goes well with rye bread, asparagus, rocket, cucumber, cream cheese, sour cream, brie, horseradish cream, caviar, boiled eggs, spring onion, chives, avocado, dill, and potato.

To cure a whole side of salmon, double the quantities stated in the recipe.

500g piece of fresh salmon

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon thyme leaves

3 tablespoons citrus vodka

Pin bone the salmon, then put it in a non reactive container, (plastic or ceramic). Mix the remaining ingredients together and spoon then over the salmon. Cover and refrigerate for 3 days, spooning the curing liquid over the fish a couple of times a day.

To serve, lift the fish for the cure, pat dry with a paper towel, then using a very thin bladed slicing knife, cut into very thin slices.

Before you go.

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Horseradish sour cream

Step 1

Whisk potatoes, if using, sour cream, horseradish, dill, parsley, and lemon juice in a small bowl season with salt and pepper.


Step 2

Spread horseradish sour cream on bread and top with smoked salmon, radishes, roe, if using, dill, and parsley. Season with pepper.

How would you rate Smoked Salmon Smørrebrød?

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1 head of cos lettuce
8 radishes
1 carrot, peeled
200g hot smoked salmon
For the gravlax dressing:
2 heaped tbsp good-quality mayonnaise
2 heaped tbsp sweet grainy mustard
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
a pinch of sea salt

How to store home-made salmon gravlax

The home-made salmon gravlax is a fresh natural product which does not have any preservatives (unlike the commercially made ones). So it can only be stored in the refrigerator for not longer than 2 or 3 days. If you are planning to store the the home-made salmon gravlax for that long, place it into a glass or porcelain bowl, add a tea spoon of olive oil and mix the gravlax so that the oil coats the fish evenly.

Home-made gravlax: cured salted salmon

How to use salmon gravlax

Homemade gravlax is a very cost-effective way of making something a bit fancier that's great for entertaining.

  • Put it on top of rye bread with some Danish remoulade sauce (as in my smørrebrød).
  • Serve it with salad.
  • Roll it with cream cheese instead of smoked salmon in smoked salmon pinwheels.
  • Serve it on bagels, crackers or blini.

The options are as endless as anything you would do with smoked salmon. We had it for lunch over a couple days with rye bread and remoulade. I left the pieces that were on top last in the brine the extra day so it worked out perfectly. We all loved it, including my toddler.

Gravlax has a fantastic flavor and is so easy to make, it's a wonder it's not better known. Give it a try and see for yourself how delicious it is.

Watch the video: Salmon Tartare Bruno Albouze


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