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How to get the freshest fish? Go fishing. I fished last night in Lake Michigan at sunset. The water was calm and the full moon rose as the sun was setting in the opposite sky. The first fish we caught were lake trout, which we will bake on cedar planks and serve with new potatoes and fresh tomatoes. Then we caught a gorgeous salmon. (Unfortunately, two other wilier salmons nibbled at the line but wiggled away before we could reel them in.) We filleted the fish and immediately started a batch of gravlax (salt-cured fish). Although gravlax looks like cold-smoked salmon, it is much easier to make because no special equipment is needed.

When a fish is pulled out of the water, cleaned, and kept cold (about 33 degrees F), it will keep for two weeks. The flesh is so firm on just-caught fish that the pin bones cannot be removed. We plan to eat fish for BLD (breakfast, lunch, dinner) until we are surfeited and need a pork respite.


  • 1 side of salmon
  • 1/3 cup vodka or gin
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly-ground black pepper

Pour the alcohol over the salmon. Mix together the salt, sugar, and pepper. Press onto the salmon. Cover with plastic wrap and weigh down with bricks or cast iron. Place in the refrigerator and turn the salmon over each day. The salmon is ready after 3-4 days. If desired, press chopped fresh dill onto the salmon. Slice the salmon very thinly and serve on crackers with cream cheese.

2 Comments for “Really Fresh Fish: Gravlax Recipe”  

  1. Drew

    This sounds delicious. I want to try this recipe!

  2. Bill G.

    I have made Gravlox the last several years and it is great. I add chopped dill and the zest of one orange to the salt mixture. My office now expects it every Christmas.