Gravlax is arguably the easiest fancy appetizer you can ever learn to make! Five minutes of prepping and a day or two of resting time results in delightful slices of luxury you can serve your guests or enjoy yourself just because you can.

Now that the Christmas is over it is time to concentrate on New Year’s wishes and promises and of course planning a really fancy New Year’s Eve party. Well in our case it means getting together with my best friends’ family and going to the seaside. Since the oldest kids around the house are five and the youngest one years old, our huge party will be sitting around the fireplace, having a glass of champagne or a cup of mulled wine or hot chocolate and enjoying a leisurely dinner. It has been quite a demanding year for both of our families so a bit of relaxation will be wonderful to send it off and to welcome a new year that will probably be as fast-going and challenging (we do have six, soon-to-be-seven children all under six years old between the two families 😀 ) but definitely worth living as fully as possible.

The fact that we are not out and about in town or organizing a fancy elegant dinner party does not mean that we cannot have some fancy elegant appetizers to start the evening with. Nevertheless let’s be realistic: nobody has time to prepare something extremely elaborate when these adorable little monsters called children are around.

Fortunately there are a few wonderful appetizers that demand little to no work at all to prepare and that can easily be made in advance. One of these recipes is gravlax which is another word for salt cured salmon. In my family we have made this since I was a little girl. Actually in all Nordic countries this is a really regular food used on sandwiches or as an appetizer or a first course. I must admit I was very surprised to find gravlax in the supermarket aisles when I came to France. Well I suppose you can find it in stores in Estonia as well but I honestly had never noticed. Still I think I will never buy gravlax at a shop since it is the easiest thing on Earth to make yourself.

NB! Be very careful to choose the freshest salmon you can find! The curing will “cook” it a bit but it still remains raw fish. Be sure to tell your fishmonger you need sashimi-quality salmon!

Go ahead and have a try with this recipe!

Gravlax recipe
  • 450 g of really fresh salmon fillet
  • 3 heaping tbsp of coarse sea salt
  • 2 heaping tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tbsp dried dill (or a small bunch of fresh dill


  • Crushed red berries or
  • Crushed black pepper or
  • White pepper
  • Chili flakes
  • Fennel seeds

Mix together salt sugar and dill. Place salmon fillet in a container with a lid. Pour salt mixture over the salmon and rub it over the entire surface (skin side as well). Let the salmon rest under the sea salt blanket for 24 hours. And you’re done: gravlax is ready! Cut extra thin slices with a really sharp knife and serve. Gravlax makes a fancy appetizer served with tsatsiki sauce on homemade blinis or toast. It would also be lovely as a first course or a light meal accompanied by toast or plain lettuce and a quarter of a lemon to drizzle on top.

Sliced gravlax will store fine in the refrigerator in a sealed container for 3-4 days  Keep in mind that it is still raw fish even if the salt cure does increase its shelf-life by a few days.

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