Norwegian gravlaks and a simple beetroot pickle

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Normally I have the family in mind when I post recipes on my blog, but on this occasion this dish is all about me, me, me!

I adore fish and seafood you see, but I don’t get to eat or cook with it as much as I might like. My husband is sadly unable to eat most fish and seafood and I don’t really like cooking separate meals for different family members if I can avoid it. That’s why you don’t generally see that many fish recipes here.

It’s a tricky one though as I do want to encourage my daughters to grow up eating fish, as it’s just so blinkingly well good for you. When I have time, I make up big batches of fish pie and freeze it to make easy dinners for the girls when my husband and I are eating later. And of course there’s always a ready supply of fish cakes and fishfingers in the freezer for them too. Thankfully, my oldest daughter seems to have inherited my love of all things fishy, so when we eat out you you’ll generally find us gorging on mussels and prawns. However my youngest seems to be taking my husband’s lead and always turns her nose up at shellfish of any description and really needs to be persuaded just to eat simple a piece of fish.

Salmon though is thankfully one fish both my girls will eat quite happily. So from time to time, I’ll cook us some salmon steaks, baked wrapped in foil with some lemon and herbs and do the same for my other half, but with a chicken breast, which makes for a fine, fuss-free supper.

When the Norwegian Seafood Council recently sent me some of their sustainably-sourced fresh salmon, I did first of all consider trying out a new family-friendly (albeit not husband-friendly) dish. But that thought didn’t last long. Browsing through Signe Johansen’s gorgeous Scandlicious cookbook, I came across her recipe for home-cured Norwegian-style gravlaks with beetroot pickle and just knew I had to make it, regardless of who else would eat it with me.

I’m not normally this self-centred. Honest.

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It’s an absolutely stunning dish, and incredibly easy to make too. Just make sure your salmon is super fresh. If in any doubt, freeze the fillet for 24 hours to kill off any bacteria and then defrost it. The curing turns the salmon a wonderfully vibrant pink, which is just so irresistible – well to me anyway, and it turns out my oldest daughter Jessie was quite a fan too. I tried to my best to tempt Mia with it but she wasn’t having any of it. Oh well, all the more for me then.

I followed Signe Johansen’s recipe for the gravlaks and delicious dill mustard sauce (my husband enjoyed this with his cold chicken) and made my own very simple beetroot pickle based on a lovely, light recipe from BBC Good Food.

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Simple beetroot pickle

Makes three to four jars

650g raw beetroot
130g caster sugar
100ml white wine vinegar
2 star anise
3 cloves
pinch of ground allspice
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional)

Pre heat the oven to 180°C/ gas mark 4.

Wash the beetroot and cut off any roots, stalks and leaves. Place in a roasting tin with a couple of tablespoons of water and cover with foil. Roast for around an hour or until just tender. Leave to cool and then rub off the skins, wearing rubber gloves to prevent your fingers staining. Cut into small dice.

Place the cubes of beetroot into sterilised jars.

Pour the sugar, white wine vinegar, 70ml cold water, spices and bay leaves into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Then simmer gently for a couple of minutes until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the balsamic vinegar.

Carefully pour the hot vinegar and spice mixture over the beetroot. Pop on the lids and leave to cool. Keep in the fridge for up to a month.

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Gravlaks with dill mustard sauce

Serves 12-14 as starters

1½ kg salmon fillet, cut in half
1 tbsp white peppercorns
2 tbsp coriander seeds
100g sugar
75g sea salt
3 x 15g pack dill, chopped (for the cure)
1 x 15g pack dill, chopped (to serve)

For the dill mustard sauce

1 x 15g pack dill
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbs demerara sugar
3 tbsp English mustard
½ tsp salt

Dry the salmon and remove any pinbones. Place both fillets skin side down, side by side.

Crush the white pepper and coriander with a pestle and mortar. Place in a small blow and mix in the sugar and salt.

Spread the dill over the skinless side of the salmon fillets, then spread a thick layer of the spiced sugar and salt mixture on top. Sandwich both fillets together with the skin outermost. Use any mixture that spills to cover any exposed surfaces of the salmon.

Wrap the sandwiched fillets very tightly in two layers of clingfilm and place in a dish. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 48.

The dill sauce is fantastically simple. Just put all the ingredients into a blender and give it a good whizz. Use it straightaway or keep in a sealed jar in the fridge for a week.

When the gravlaks has cured, remove the clingfilm and wipe the fillets clean with a paper towel. Pat them dry and place on a board, skin-side down. Cover with a layer of chopped dill and press down firmly but without flattening the fish.

Thinly slice the gravlaks on the diagonal, from the tail towards the middle of the fillet.

It’s perfect served on sourdough bread with a drizzle of the dill mustard sauce, topped with pickled beetroot.

For more easy salmon recipes, take a look at the Norwegian Seafood Council website at

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I’m entering the Simple Beetroot Pickle into October’s Spice Trail challenge, as the theme is Preserves & Pickles. If you are posting recipes this month for any spiced chutneys, pickles, jams or preserves, do please link them up. There is a fantastic prize of a cheese and olives hamper for one lucky winner.

Disclosure: I received complimentary salmon samples from the Norwegian Seafood Council, as well as a copy of Signe Johansen’s ‘Scandilicious’. No money exchanged hands and all opinions expressed are my own.

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