Thursday, March 10, 2011

Home Cured 'smoked' Salmon 'gravlax' style

Smoked Salmon is awesome. Salmon Gravlax is also awesome. But both are equally as expensive as they are awesome. So the obvious solution, then, is to cure your own salmon at home!

From our research on the 'net (I know, right? If you read it on the Internet it *must* be true!), it seems that it's impossible to properly smoke salmon at home, because with traditional hot smoking, you'd end up just having cooked salmon. Which also rocks, by the way, but that's not what we're going for.

What we're going to do is to salt-cure our salmon, which is a surprisingly easy process. Start off with a decent-sized salmon fillet - it needs to be as fresh as possible! Skin-on and skin-off doesn't make any difference to the process, but having the skin on makes it easier to slice later.

The base ingredients are as follows: 1 part salt and 1 part sugar, and that's it! The salt and sugar will cure the salmon, drawing the water out of the fillet. Everything else is for flavor - in our first attempt we've added 1/3 part paprika and 1/3 part black pepper. For a 1 pound fillet, '1 part' would be roughly 3 tablespoons.

Wash your salmon and pat it dry. Ideally you'd do this on cheesecloth, but we couldn't find any so we just cut up some coffee filters. What you're looking for is any porous material that will absorb the liquids that will be drawn out by the curing process (kitchen towels won't work cos they'll stick to the salmon and make a mess). This step is just to spread the ingredients all over the salmon.

Salmon fillet nicely coated. You might have noticed that we used brown sugar, there should be no difference if you use white.

Wrap up the salmon with 3 or 4 layers of absorbent material as there will be quite a lot of fluids. Finish off with plastic wrap, then toss it into the fridge! You get better results if you weigh down the fish - just grab a plate, put it on top of the salmon, and then weigh it down with a can or two of ... you know. Whatever you have in your house.

The salmon needs to sit in the fridge for two full days - turn it over once during that time. After the two days, take it out, and tadaa!

Rinse down the salmon on all sides well. With filtered, distilled or boiled water, of course.

Slice and serve and you're done! For garnishing purposes we rubbed some cracked black pepper on the fillet before slicing.

Verdict: Yummy! It's surprising how little effort this actually took to make. And while it doesn't taste exactly like smoked salmon, you know, cos we didn't actually smoke it, it does taste pretty good. Do give it a try! Total prep time is like 15 minutes, so saying that you're too busy is no excuse.

If you're worried about bacteria and all that, you shouldn't. Salt Curing is a food preservation method that has existed since ancient times, and our ancestors managed to get by without getting extinct from food poisoning, didn't they? But if you do want to be absolutely safe, head to Jusco and buy a sushi/sashimi-grade hunk of salmon.

Click here for our blog page Cooking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~


  1. this seems less labor-intensive than i had expected! always thought the salmon would need to be marinated in various ingredients. the slices in the final pic look luscious! :D

  2. wowwwww is it really THAT easy?! I missed Frangipani warm tea smoked salmon and now its my chance to come up with the replica.

  3. @Sean/AugustDiners give it a try, nothing to lose! All that's really essential is the salt and sugar. Experiment with other seasonings and if you stumble across something awesome I'd love to try it too!

    Anyway you won't really get the 'smoked' flavor (cos we didn't actually smoke the salmon). Could work with something like liquid smoke, but I don't know where to find it here in KL.