Friday, 11 January 2013


Hello and welcome to part II of my Celebrate cooking odyssey, where I tell the tale of how I cooked three things from Pippa Middleton's book in one evening and almost had a nervous breakdown.

Today is gravadlax, which is home-cured salmon. I was really worried about this. I am terrified of supermarket raw fish. I think one ought to buy it, race home with it, cook it at 200C for 30 minutes and then eat it and throw the remains away in a council bin at least 300ft away from one's house.

(To all those who are on the verge of referring me to my home-made sushi phase - I used cooked, peeled prawns for that.)

So the idea that I was going to let some fish sit in my fridge "curing" for two days caused me intense anxiety. But not so anxious that I was going to go to a fishmonger for specially super salmon.

But I needn't have worried and you needn't worry either because it was just terrific and if I hadn't decided to do a moderately complicated starter and fiendishly tricky pudding either side of this, it would have been a complete doddle.

The premise is that you take some salmon, rub it with a lot of salt, herbs and GIN and then put something heavy on it and let it sit in your fridge for two days and it basically turns into smoked salmon. No, wait, it actually turns into gravadlax.

(Please see @emfrid, the associate-editor-at-large of this blog, who is a Scandi, for more information on an echt gravadlax.)

But this is vaugely how Pips does it. This is not her exact recipe as hers makes enough for 12 people.

Gravadlax for 2

2 salmon fillets
rind of one lemon
rind of one clementine or 1/2 an orange
2 tbsp gin - any old piss will do
1 small bunch dill
1 small bunch chives
2 handfuls maldon sea salt
a pinch of black peppercorns
1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 Put everything except the salmon in a whizzer and whizz. If your salmon has arrived with skin attached, remove this the best way you can see how.

2 Lay the salmon out on some clingfilm and then smother it all over with your curing paste. Wrap the fish reasonably tightly in cling film and then sandwich it between two chopping boards or other heavy flat things and stick it in the fridge for two days.

3 When you are ready to eat this, take it out of the fridge, take the clingfilm off (the gin will probably have slightly leaked out of the clingfilm - don't worry), and brush or scrape off with a knife most of the curing paste, just to make sure no-one bites down on a rogue still-whole peppercorn.

Give yourself a bit of time to plate this up as what you are going to do is slice it very very thinly with a fucking sharp knife and it requires a reasonable amount of care.

4 In advance, make up some condiments to go with this such as:

Toasted soda bread - essential

Pickled cucumber
In a pan dissolve 1 tbsp of sugar in 2 tbsp white wine or rice wine vinegar. Leave to cool and then drop into it strips of peeled, de-seeded cucumber - marinate for at least an hour

Dill sauce
1 heaped tsp dijon mustard
about 6-8 snips from a bunch of fresh dill
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp light olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Some capers

Some very finely-chopped shallot if you want

Ice-cold vodka shots????

Isn't this also sometimes eaten with boiled potatoes and sour cream or something? Em? Hello? Is this thing on?



  1. Yes indeed, I would eat this with boiled new baby potatoes and sour cream/crème fraîche with fresh lemon juice, cracked black pepper, salt and chives mixed in. Also the aforementioned pickled cucumbers and ice-cold vodka shots.

    Especially the vodka shots.


  2. Oh god, i am *SO* base. But "any old piss" made me Laugh Out LOUD!

  3. worth the fretting then? sounds delicious

  4. Sounds fab! Always mean to have a go at making it as have watched my mother in law do it (she's Finish) but just never got around to it. Maybe I will this year!

  5. Haha, brilliant post.

    I usually serve it with a potatao and beetroot salad with the mayonnaise stirred in gently at the end to give a marbled pink effect.

    And a shot of ice cold Wyborowa. Smashing!

  6. That looks scrumptious - I too am usually nervous about supermarket fish, but I'll trust you on this and give it a try.

  7. Ha ha, the f-ing sharp knife bit rings v true. Pip's book didn't quite make my Christmas gifts shortlist...

  8. I love that you call her pips like she's your neighbour!

    And I'd make grava....smoked salmon, only the gin has been drunk already!

    Love your blog and wish I'd known about it when I still lived in London!

  9. Gravadlax is just fantastic, although I am suspicious or maybe wary of the fact it comes for Pips Middleton's book. I trust your editor more I think.

  10. Tip: avoid walking 300ft to throw away fish remains by flushing them down the loo instead. It's what we've always done in our house but then again we might be massively messing up the Paris water network.

  11. it's difficult to find salmon here in Asia, can you tell me about any alternatives?

    1. No, sorry - this really is a thing only to do with salmon :(