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Gravlax and Pickled Salmon

Gravlax and Pickled Salmon

Last week we hosted an amazing class on the traditions of Salmon Preservation with Anchorage Seed Lab and Chef Natalie Janicka from Twisted Spruce Kitchen. We talked about the history and science of food preservation and then got our hands dirty removing pin bones and making Gravlax and Pickled Salmon.
If you missed out, not to worry!
We've included the recipes here and we have more classes in the works, reach out to us if theres anything you want to learn or try and maybe we can make it happen! 

Pickled Salmon

This pickled Salmon is made in the style of Russian Selyodka. In our class, we discussed how Russian colonization of Alaska influenced culture, cuisine, and commercial fishing. 

For the Salmon:

1 ½ pounds of wild salmon, skin on and pin bones removed

Kosher Salt

For the Jars:

2 red onions, thinly sliced

For the Brine:

2 cups apple cider vinegar

2 cups of water

2 tablespoons of olive oil

¼ cup pickling spice

½ cup of sugar

2 bay leaves

1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced


  1. Place fillet skin side down in a large dish and cover with kosher salt. Be sure to cover the fish completely. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  2. Remove the salmon from the salt and rinse well.
  3. With a fillet knife, remove the skin off the fillet.
  4. Cut the salmon into bite size pieces. Set aside.
  5. To make the pickling brine, combine vinegar, water, olive oil, pickling spices, sugar, bay leaves, and garlic in a saucepan. Heat to a simmer and slowly dissolve the sugar into the vinegar. Once sugar has completely dissolved, remove from heat, take out the bay leaves, and let cool.
  6. Once the brine has cooled, thinly slice the red onion.
  7. Layer the cubes of salmon and sliced red onion into your jars and pour the chilled pickling brine on top to fill the jar up completely.
  8.  Store jars in the refrigerator, allow the flavors to blend for a day or two before opening up the jar to enjoy. Eat within 3 weeks


From the Nordic term Grav- meaning "buried" and Lax- meaning "Salmon" It was traditionally buried in sand above the high tide line with salt and herbs. Thankfully this recipe is a bit easier. Feel free to experiment with your own flavorings


1 medium (2-3 lb) salmon filet

¾ cup light brown sugar

¾ cup kosher salt

3-4 drops of liquid smoke (if using)

¼ cup fresh dill, chopped or 2 tbsp dried dill (if using)

1 cup fresh beet, grated (if using)


Remove pin bones from salmon filet.

Mix together the brown sugar and kosher salt. 

Place salmon filet in a rectangular dish, preferably a glass or pyrex pan. Using a metal pan can cause a reaction to the salt. 

**If using, rub the liquid smoke directly onto the filet.

**if using the dill, rub it directly onto the filet. If using liquid smoke, apply dill after the liquid smoke.

Sprinkle the sugar/salt mixture and on the filet, meat side up. Rub the sugar/salt mixture over every part of exposed meat allowing a slight crust to be left behind. 

**if using beets, spread the grated beets on top of the sugar/salted salmon. At this time, you should have some liquid coming from the salmon helping to create a nice paste.

Cover the salmon with plastic wrap directly on top of the salmon filet. 

Place in the refrigerator for 16 hours. If the filet is smaller, reduce time to 12-14 hours. If the filet is larger, allow salmon to stay covered with mixture for 20-22 hours. You are looking for a firm, tight texture. 

Once salmon has met its curing time, rinse under cold water to remove all excess sugar/salt mixture, dill or beets, roughly 2-3 minutes.

Dry with a paper towel so that both the meat side and skin side of the filet are dry. Place back into the cleaned glass or pyrex pan and allow to air dry, uncovered for an additional 8-10 hours (depending on fish size) in the refrigerator. 

Keep the filet whole until ready to serve. 

Starting at the tail end of the filet, slice the salmon at an angle with a very sharp knife and one that is large enough to cut all the way across the width of the filet. You are looking for thin, uniform slices.

Place slices on a serving dish.

Serve with your choice of accompaniments. Traditional accompaniments include:

  • Diced red onions
  • Capers
  • Rye or pumpernickel bread
  • Creme fraiche or cream cheese
  • Dijon mustard
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Diced hard boiled eggs