Beetroot Gravad Lax

wbeetrootsmoked salmon

Gravad lax is one of those dishes people usually mention a part of Swedish cuisine–they’re not wrong of course, but it’s not exactly something that fills my childhood with memories. In fact, I think I’ve heard about it more from people outside Sweden than actually in Sweden. The name roughly translates to “buried salmon”, which is a pretty good way to describe how this salted, lightly fermented salmon dish is made. Realistically, the salmon is “cured” in a mixture of spirit and salt and makes a similar texture to smoked salmon, though they aren’t the same process at all.

It’s a bit of a fussy process because of the beetroot and its talent for staining absolutely everything, but the rest of the recipe pretty much just means sticking the salmon in the fridge for a few days to let the flavours develop, and et voila! Beetroot gravad lax. Yes, it’s really that easy.


The salty flavour gets more concentrated along the pink-beetroot places, and the curing makes the salmon slippery and soft, rather like delicate pieces of sashimi salmon. Delicious.

Adapted from here.

Serves 4-6.

800g of salmon side, skin on
3 medium beetroot, rinsed and peeled
zest of one orange
zest of one lemon
2 juniper berries, bashed
80g of rock salt
50ml of gin

bunch of dill
50ml of gin
80g of rock salt

Chop the beetroot, both zests and juniper berries in a blender until fine. Transfer to a bowl, and mix with the gin and the rock salt.

Lay clingfilm over a baking tray. Place the salmon skin side down. Pour over the beetroot mix, spreading it all over the salmon flesh. Wrap in the clingfilm, then a double layer of baking paper, and finally a few more layers of clingfilm if necessary, and refrigerate the salmon overnight for 24 hours.

After the 24 hours are up, carefully unwrap the salmon, and rinse off the cure–the salmon should have been tinted by the beetroot. Mix together the dill, gin and rock salt, and press over the skinless flesh once more. Wrap it up again in greaseproof paper and clingfilm. Refrigerate for another 24 hours.

The salmon will now be ready–simply rinse off the salt mixture as best as you can (the herbs can stay), and serve as part of a mixed salad for something more sturdy. Below is a mixed bulgur wheat salad with butternut squash, red cabbage, aubergine, and mange tout. Or keep things simply, and serve with toast and some wedges of lemon.



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