Salmon dishes: gravlax in the middle, cold-smoked on the left and warm-smoked on the right
Alternative namesGravad lax, grav(ad)laks, gravad laks
CourseHors d'oeuvre
Place of originNordic countries
Main ingredientssalmon, salt, sugar, dill/spruce
Gravlax with hovmästarsås (a mustard and dill sauce)

Gravlax (Swedish: [ˈgrɑ̂ːvlakːs]) or graved salmon is a Nordic dish consisting of salmon that is cured using a mix of salt, sugar and dill. It is garnished with fresh dill or sprucetwigs[1][2] and may occasionally be cold-smoked afterwards. Gravlax is usually served as an appetizer, sliced thinly and accompanied by hovmästarsås (literally 'maitre d'hôtel sauce', also known in Sweden as gravlaxsås, in Norway as sennepssaus, literally 'mustard sauce', in Denmark as rævesovs, literally 'fox sauce', in Iceland as graflaxsósa, and in Finland as hovimestarinkastike, literally 'butler sauce'), dill and mustard sauce, either on bread or with boiled potatoes.


The word gravlax comes from the Northern Germanic word gräva/grave ('to dig'; modern sense 'to cure (fish)') which goes back to the Proto-Germanic *grabą, *grabō ('hole in the ground; ditch, trench; grave') and the Indo-European root *ghrebh- 'to dig, to scratch, to scrape',[3] and lax/laks, 'salmon'.


During the Middle Ages, gravlax was made by fishermen, who salted the salmon and lightly fermented it by burying it in the sand above the high-tide line.

Fermentation is no longer used in the production process. Instead the salmon is "buried" in a dry marinade of salt, sugar, and dill, and cured for between twelve hours and a few days. As the salmon cures, osmosis moves moisture out of the fish and into the salt and sugar, turning the dry mixture into a highly concentrated brine, which can be used in Scandinavian cooking as part of a sauce.[4] This same method of curing can be employed for any fatty fish, but salmon is the most commonly used.

See also


  1. ^ Fredrikson, Karin (1963). Nya stora kokboken [New Big Cookbook] (in Swedish). Göteborg: Wezäta. p. 229.
  2. ^ Hemberg, Birgit; Eriksson, Fredrik (16 August 2005). Bonniers kokbok [Bonniers cookbook] (in Swedish). Bonnierförlagens Press. p. 267. ISBN 9789100103781.
  3. ^ "GRAV". Svenska Akademiens ordbok [Swedish Academy Dictionary] (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  4. ^ Ruhlman, Michael; Polcyn, Brian; Solovyev, Yevgenity (10 September 2013). Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 51–52. ISBN 978-0393240054.