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A traditional gravlax cure is fl avoured with lots of chopped dill and black pepper, but this recipe puts a colourful twist on the Scandinavian classic with the addition of beetroot, which turns the fish a vivid purple. Not only does the finished dish look visually impressive, but the whisky and orange add a real depth of flavour.


Makes – 750g (1lb 10oz) gravlax


  • 750g (1lb 10oz) side of salmon, skinned and deboned
    For the cure
  • 75ml (2½fl oz) whisky
  • 4 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp crushed black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp crushed coriander seeds
  • 1 beetroot, peeled and grated


  • large frying pan or cast-iron skillet
  • small saucepan or butterpan
  • 750ml (1¼-pint) glass jar, sterilized

Gravalax Method

  1. To make the cure, mix the whisky, salt, sugar, orange zest and juice, dill, and spices in a bowl, then combine with the grated beetroot.
  2. Place the side of salmon in a large non-reactive container and rub the cure into the fish thoroughly on all sides (fig. a).

    fig. a

  3. Apply some pressure on top of the fish to speed up the curing process. I have made a lid that fits inside my curing dish (fig. b), then I simply add tins from the larder on top to weigh it down. Alternatively, wrap the salmon tightly in baking parchment and press between 2 plates with weights on top (again, evenly spaced tins from the larder are ideal). Leave to cure in the fridge, at below 5°C (41°F), for 36 hours. Check on it occasionally and pour offany liquid brine as it drains from the fish.

    fig. b

  4. Scrape off the cure and rinse the salmon under cold running water. Gently pat dry with kitchen paper.
  5. Slice the side of salmon thinly on an angle and serve. Store in the fridge for 1 week.

Expert Tips:

  • Reduce the curing time by 12 hours if you want a softer texture.
  • Always use sashimi-grade fish or, to be super safe, freeze the fish for 24 hours before starting the curing process, to kill off any parasites.
  • Once the fish is cured and patted dry, try adding a crust of red chilli flakes, chopped dill, crushed black pepper, and coriander for a warming play on fish pastrami.

Recipes extracted from The Artisan Kitchen by James Strawbridge, Published by DK Books, RRP $49.99 AUD/  $55 NZD

The Artisan Kitchen by James Strawbridge

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