August 13th, 2009
This is an old Scandinavian favorite from Strictly Fish, the North Coast Fishermen’s Wives’ cookbook.
It is not surprising that this method of preparing salmon is a Scandinavian favorite. The word for salmon in Norwegian (Norsk) is laks, just as it is in Yiddish. Lox is probably the more familiar spelling to Americans. But lox is cold smoked salmon. Lax in this case is a cured salt salmon with dill weed. Atlantic salmon served in a manner similar to this recipe (but not always with the dill weed and complementary sauce) is a staple in Scandinavia. Gravad lax is the spelling in Swedish, while in Danish it is gravad laks, and in Norwegian (also in Danish) simply gravlaks.
Back in the days when Pier 39 in Astoria was the CRPA/Bumble Bee cold storage facility, Norwegian immigrant Chris Thompson of Astoria filleted the large summer Chinook known colloquially as “June Hogs,” and salted them down in tierces (large wooden barrels) to make “mild cure” Columbia River salmon. Sadly, the run of June Hogs perished with the construction of Grand Coulee dam, which blocked fish passage to the upper third of the Columbia Basin. But Chris, now in his 90s and an honorary member of the Board of Directors of the Hanthorn Cannery Foundation, still likes mild cure the best.
The recipe for Gravad Lax is appended as a PDF file.