Wednesday 16 August 2017

Globecooking recipe : Graavi lohi - salted salmon (Finland)

I was very squeamish about this recipe because the idea of eating "raw" fish that has only been "cooked" with salt seemed very dodgy to me. I kept putting it off - it was in the Finnish-themed Kitchen Trotter box from Christmas - but in the end, I bit the bullet, and it was actually very nice and surprisingly simple, although you do need to plan ahead.

Graavi lohi

2 fresh salmon fillets
2tbsp coarse salt (I would use a lot more)
1tsp black pepper
2tsp sugar
6tbsp dill

for the mustard sauce :

1tsp red wine vinegar (I used pomegranate vinegar)
1tbsp mild Finnish mustard
5cl oil
1/2tsp sugar

for the optional marinade :

a few small fir twigs
1 capful of vodka or gin
1/2tsp pink pepper

The two exotic ingredients which were in my Finnish-themed Kitchen Trotter box were the mild Finnish mustard and the organic pine needles.

As I have an overflowing spice rack, I had several different pots of coarse salt so I decided to combine them all. I therefore used a mixture of coarse red salt from Hawaii, Murray River salt from Australia which has a pinkish colour and Persian Blue Sapphire salt from Iran. I don't think it makes any difference though - apart from the colour, they all just taste salty !

I had six thin fillets of fish but you could use two bigger ones. Simply sprinkle over the salt, sugar, dill and black pepper. The recipe said to use 2tbsp of salt but I didn't think this was anywhere near enough to cover the whole surface of the fish, as this would be the only thing that would be "cooking" it. I just sprinkled until it was completely coated with a thickish layer of salt.

Lay the other salmon fillets on top, skin upwards, and put in the fridge. Again, this is where different recipes vary greatly. Most say at east eight hours, I saw one recipe that said two hours (eek !) and this one said overnight, which is what I went for, to be on the safe side.

The next day, finely chop the pine needles, grind the pink pepper and add to the vodka/gin. In a separate bowl, mix the mustard and vinegar, sugar and white pepper, then whisk in the oil to create a sort of mayonnaise.

Take the salmon out of the fridge and scrape off the excess salt. It should have taken on an orangey smoked salmon colour.

Cut into thin slices and, if you want, drizzle over some of the gin/vodka marinade. Serve with crusty bread and some of the mustard mixture on the side.


  1. My mouth is watering, it looks delicious xx

  2. Yummy, I'd love to try this.. My hubby made some "cooked" in just lemon juice & salt & I was very nervous but it was actually delicious

    1. I was exactly the same, it just seemed wrong - but it did taste lovely ! :)

  3. Delicious recipe! It sounds very similar to the Russian recipes of curing salmon at home, with lots of salt, sugar, spices and vodka. In fact it is one of my party pieces, I love serving thinly sliced salmon with blini as a starter. And yes, 2tbsp of salt sounds not enough. The salmon has to be covered with salt, then rinsed.

    1. I'm glad I followed my instincts with the salt - I'm sure it would have been raw otherwise ! :)

  4. I love salmon but not sure about it uncooked. My husband would like it

  5. I love salmon but not sure about it uncooked. My husband would like it

    1. The salt kind of cooks it so it has the texture of smoked salmon


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