Gravad Lax Fennel Salad

Gravlax is one of my absolute favorite foods. I could eat it every day and it works just as well on a warm summer day as it does on a Christmas buffet. Mild and versatile, gravlax is fit for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s often served with potatoes, but I especially love it with buttered bread, or crisp bread, drizzled with dill mustard sauce. On a nice Indian summer day like today, I prefer it in a fresh, crispy salad as a refreshing option.

Making gravlax is pretty straight forward, the main ingredients are salmon, salt and sugar, most often in combination with dill and mustard seeds. However, the quality and type of these ingredients can make a significant difference. Since first making my own gravlax years ago, I have tried processed white sugar, raw sugar and honey, as well as different kinds of salts and spices… The recipe below is by far my favorite. The mild Himalayan salt does not overpower the dish and the palm sugar gives it a mild, not too sweet, carmel like taste. The addition of juniper berries adds a hint of a woodsy, almost smoky flavor.

palm sugar cured salmon with apple & fennel salad tossed in buttermilk dressing

½ cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise
½ green apple, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 small jicama root, peeled and thinly sliced
1 bunch watercress
buttermilk dressing (recipe below)
palm sugar cured salmon (recipe below)


Toss all ingredients except watercress and salmon with the buttermilk dressing and plate.

Place watercress around the edges and top with thinly sliced cured salmon.

Garnished with edible black violets and crushed fresh juniper berries.

Salad serves 4

palm sugar (kokossocker) cured salmon

2-3 pounds good quality salmon cut into two equal size pieces, skin on
½ cup coconut palm sugar
¼ cup fine pink Himalayan salt
½ cup yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons juniper berries
2 tablespoons pink pepper corns
1-2 bunches fresh dill


Remove pin bones from the salmon with tweezers or needle nose pliers, rinse under cold water and pat dry.

Lightly crush juniper berries and pepper corns and mix with salt, sugar and mustard seeds.

Coat fleshy sides of salmon with most of the sugar/spice mixture, saving some for the skin sides. Fold the two pieces together placing most of the dill between them. No need to remove stems or chop the dill.

Put ½ of the remaining dill on a large piece of aluminum foil. Sprinkle ½ of the remaining sugar/spice mixture over the dill and place the folded salmon pieces on top.

Top with remaining sugar/spice and dill and wrap tightly with foil until completely covered.

Place foil package in a glass dish or other non reactive container and refrigerate for 48-60 hours, turning the package every 10-12 hours.

Unwrap and rinse under cold water, removing dill and spices, and pat dry. Don’t worry about getting every single piece of mustard seed, dill etc off, a little piece here and there will add to the flavor.

Refrigerate and enjoy cold, thinly sliced.

buttermilk dressing

½ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoons finely chopped dill
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon honey
salt and pepper to taste


Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate.

White Dinner Plate from Heath.

Photography by Philip Blankenship.