alexandra alger


Instead of Hay, Make Gravlax

Here we are, in the second week of January, and even as I have now cleared out the tree, put away the decorations, chunked the left-over chocolate roll and candy-canes, I’m still stuck in holiday mode. All I can think about are recipes and online shopping. I’ve now scanned resort wear on the Bergdorf Goodman site at least twice. This is a disturbing trend for someone who doesn’t ordinarily like to shop. I’ve also bought things that are easy to put off, because they’re boring and no one really cares about them.Wash clothes, for instance. I found time to buy two white wash clothes (on sale!). And a pillow, for my side of the bed, because my current one’s been deflating for a while.

I know what I’m really doing. You do, too, I’m sure. Procrastinating. Putting off getting back to finishing the first draft of my new MG book. (Only first draft, and I’m deep into second- and third-draft-quality procrastination.)

By now I’m getting so annoyed with myself that I know I will (soon, very) get back to work. After I make gravlax.

Homemade gravlax. The preparing of it is a sort of antidote to procrastination; your energy goes into looking forward, into anticipation, because gravlax needs three days to cure in the fridge. I made it for Christmas lunch; couldn’t believe how easy and utterly delicious it was.


I made this batch from a recipe in the December issue of Food and Wine: Pink Peppercorn and Fennel Gravlax (I’d type it out here if it weren’t readily available on

Whoa, Nelly—my eyes did a double take. Pink Peppercorns? Well, doesn’t that sound pretty, I thought. I know, I’m showing my less-than-foodie-level knowledge of spices. I also needed fennel pollen. In the pre-internet days, I would’ve had to search far and wide for such exotic items, but no longer. Within two days, thanks to amazon, I had them.

The basics: You buy a nice piece of salmon fillet, envelope it in spices, salt, sugar and sprigs of dill, wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap, and let it cure in the fridge, weighted down, for three days. There a few other steps, tiny ones; and that’s it. Those Scandinavians are brilliant! And you will be, too. Find the recipe, if you can get all the ingredients together by Wednesday, you can be gorging on gravlax this weekend. Let me know if you are anything but delighted by the results.

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2 thoughts on “Instead of Hay, Make Gravlax

  1. That’s some pretty impressive procrastination! Get back to work 🙂

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