How to Make Norwegian Gravlax

This post brought to you by Norwegian Salmon. All opinions are 100% mine.

Living so close to the coast we are definitely seafood lovers. And being so close to the water, we know good seafood when we taste it. We also know when it comes to finding authentic, superior tasting foods, origin really does matters. Today we’re going to focus on one of my favorite fish – salmon. When it comes to salmon, Norway is on top of it’s game. And we’re going to tell you all about it!

Coastal Norwegian Village.jpeg (10 documents, 10 total pages)

The highly skilled salmon craftsmen of Norway want to educate the American seafood lovers about their world-renowned aquaculture that allows them to provide the finest quality ocean-farmed salmon available. I’m excited to be able to share this information with you because knowing where our food comes from is so very important.

“Knowing exactly where your seafood comes from and how it was harvested is the best way to make a good choice for your family,” says Børge Grønbech, USA Director of the Norwegian Seafood Export Council. “Norway is proud of the rich history and cultural traditions that are a way of life for our salmon craftsmen. Given the nutritional importance of incorporating heart-healthy and protein-rich fish into your diet on a weekly basis, we want to educate seafoodies about the unmatched level of skill and painstaking care that goes into the way we raise and harvest our fresh, ocean-farmed salmon.

Salmon Farm 1.jpg (10 documents, 10 total pages)

The ice-cold artic waters and crystal-clear fjords of Norway have influenced the rich fishing heritage carried forth by generations of Norwegians who make it their living for thousands of years. This same passion for the sea and respect for nature helped Norway to earn an international reputation for purveying the finest, freshest seafood. In fact, Norway’s seafood industry pioneered the development of responsible ocean salmon-farming in the early 1970’s.

Norway is now one of the world’s largest suppliers of seafood, including wild and farmed fish, with more than 27 million meals including Norwegian Seafood consumed worldwide every day. These unsurpassed standards of excellence are also applied to the level of care and rigorous safety measures used to raise and harvest ocean-farmed salmon from Norway.

This dedication to responsible fishing and respect for the environment was eye-opening for R.D., blogger Kate Geagan, M.S., R.D., who participated in an educational trip to Norway in April 2011. “Norway has done a world-class job of linking responsible fisheries with ocean preservation and food security – two of the biggest challenges facing the world in our lifetime,” said Geagan in her June 5 blog titled ‘From Fjord to Fork? My Firsthand Look at A Norwegian Salmon Farm.’ “And remember that the science suggests that fish, even farmed fish, is always a better choice for dinner, from both a lean AND eco-friendly standpoint, when compared to other staples such as beef or pork.”

Salmon Farm 2.jpg (10 documents, 10 total pages)

A deep respect for nature and cultural pride in being the best is what fuels the Norwegian seafood industries’ continued efforts to improve its already strict standards of excellence and safety applied to raising ocean-farmed salmon. This guarantees consumers enjoy fresh, delicately flavored salmon from Norway year-round.“The analogy I would give is that farmers in Norway are treating their salmon the way our organic farmers in the U.S. treat their farms,” said Ashley Koff, R.D., M.S., on a Good Morning America Health Segment, May 5, 2011, after also participating in an educational trip to Norway in April of 2011.

Slowly grown as nature intended in the cold clear Norwegian waters, ocean-farmed salmon are tended to with meticulous attention until they are mature enough to go to market. The fish spend approximately the first year of their life in the safety of a hatchery tank on land until they are large and strong enough for life at sea. The salmon are then carefully transferred to spacious, protected ocean pens that allow maximum freedom to grow. To prevent overcrowding, Norwegian law requires that salmon make up less than 2.5 percent of an aquaculture facility’s volume. That means each spacious facility is made up of 97.5 percent water to allow for maximum comfort and a healthy life/growth.

Every aspect of the salmon’s development is closely monitored by technologically advanced systems that feed information to the farmers and their veterinarians, including when the salmon are full so the feeding device can be shut down. And, when it comes to feeding, Norway’s fisherman know exactly what salmon need to grow strong and healthy.  Norwegian salmon are fed an all-natural diet comprised of 50 percent marine raw materials like fish oil and fishmeal from wild fish, and 50 percent vegetable raw material, plus vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Salmon Farm 3.jpg (10 documents, 10 total pages)

The recent introduction of the USDA’s new “My Plate” dietary guidelines recommending at least two servings of fish a week has amped up the importance of incorporating protein-rich fin fish like salmon into American diets. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends increasing seafood intake as a means to improve the general health of the world’s population. However, meeting this requirement will become increasingly difficult as fish populations are at risk for depletion in the near future. Thankfully, sustainable, responsible aquaculture has long been a part of the Norwegian seafood industry’s philosophy.

“Norway is one of the biggest exporters of Atlantic salmon. Our seafood is enjoyed in more than 150 countries worldwide,” says Grønbech. “The reason for this success is Norway’s long traditions of harvesting seafood in a sustainable manner to ensure safe, delicious seafood supplies are available for generations of fish lovers to come.”

No need to wait for a special season, ocean-farmed Norwegian Salmon is available fresh year-round, is easy to prepare and is a good investment in your family’s health. For more information about ocean-farmed salmon from Norway, visit

Founded in 1991 by the Ministry of Fisheries, the Norwegian Seafood Export Council (NSEC) builds awareness of and educates the public on seafood from Norway. From the headquarters in Tromso, Norway and a U.S. branch in Boston, Mass., the NSEC carries out Norwegian seafood promotional, media, marketing and public relations campaigns and is a resource for market information in more than 20 different markets. Its entire efforts are financed by the Norwegian seafood industry itself. As the world’s second largest exporter of seafood, Norway provides quality, nutrient rich seafood to over 150 different countries, and is the world’s largest joint marketer of seafood. For more information on the NSEC visit

Growing up in Lovund, an island on Norway’s ragged coast dotted with steep mountains rising from the Norwegian sea, Aino Olaisen’s childhood memories are deeply connected to the seafaring traditions that continue to sustain this small fishing village of just 423 residents.

Aino Olaisen.jpeg (10 documents, 10 total pages)

Now the owner of Nova Sea AS, a 35-year-old salmon farming company started by her father Steinar in 1972, Aino takes great pride in carrying on her family’s business and devotion to providing the freshest salmon available through the basic principles of integrity, honesty and unsurpassed quality. In fact, the farmers in Lovund provide more than 425 million meals every year for the global salmon market directly from their cold, clear coastal waters. That’s a whole lot of meals.

Describing her company as a high-tech global business that’s highly regulated for traceability and safety, Aino says the business provides a simple way of living and harvesting from the ocean that makes food production a pleasure shared by everyone in this vital Norwegian industry.

“It’s amazing to be able to every day play an important part in people’s lives,” explains Aino. “Food is such a basic, simple part of people’s survival but at the same time, it’s indispensable. That’s why we take so much pride in providing the highest quality salmon to add taste and enjoyment to the lives of the people who eat it.”

Since the first batch of 1,200 juvenile salmon, or smolt, were shipped in plastic bags to Lovund to start farming in the early 1970’s, Aino watched her father struggle to establish salmon farming as a means to reverse the trend of depopulation and depression in Lovund’s local trade and industry at that time. After years of research, experiments and round-the-clock work to ensure the salmon’s survival, the first salmon farms began growing. Since then, Lovund has flourished as a natural source of fresh salmon and cod, slowly grown as nature intended in the cold, clear Norwegian waters.

Born just a few years after the company was started, food production has been a natural and important part of Aino’s life ever since. She started contributing to the family business at an early age, spending her summer vacations working on the farm. At age 16, Aino left Lovund to continue her education and later attended the Norwegian College of Fishery Science in Tromso. After 15 years of study and travel in Denmark, Ecuador and France, Aino returned home to start a family and continue with the business in the hopes of passing down these traditions to her own family.

When asked why Americans should choose Norwegian salmon, Aino says simply, “Norway has a long history of harvesting from the ocean and the Norwegian culture is strongly connected to the sea. Our salmon is healthy, delicious and produced in safe environments with complete traceability. Plus, Norwegian salmon contains important marine proteins and omega-3 fatty acids that are so important for the human body. That’s why Norwegians are so healthy.”

Raw Norwegian Salmon.jpg (10 documents, 10 total pages)

As you can imagine, salmon is a regular part of her family’s diet, according to Aino. “We eat salmon for dinner at least once a week, and we often enjoy smoked salmon for breakfast and lunch,” she says. “My favorite way to serve it is to oven bake a salmon fillet in aluminum foil after sprinkling it with soy sauce, herbs, fresh chili, fresh ginger and a few drops of freshly squeezed lime. My family loves it served with fresh vegetables.”

Now I know you’re wondering, Paula did you actually taste this salmon? Yes, I did. I received a sample of Norwegian salmon. Shipped directly to me from Norway. And the word sample probably isn’t the best description. It was the biggest salmon I’ve ever seen and the most gorgeous color. Vibrant beyond imagination. It was also the most deliciously fresh salmon I have ever tasted.

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We cooked it several ways including smoking some {which I highly recommend} we also tried the very traditional Norwegian Gravlax recipe. From what I understand, no Norwegian lunch would be complete without this distinctive dish, gravlax. The name literally means “Grave-Salmon” and refers to the medieval practice of curing the raw fish by burying it in the sand above the high tide level.  Today gravlax is cured with sugar, salt and fresh dill to produce a fresh, delicate flavor that is traditionally eaten on open-faced sandwiches or with stewed potatoes. We enjoyed ours over crackers.

It was easy to make and even easier to eat. Luckily for all of us, they’re share their beloved recipe below!

I’m hoping to be able to visit Norway myself in the spring to see this wonderful seafood industry myself and who knows maybe even meet Aino and have a bit of Gravlax ; )


Print This Recipe

Norwegian Gravlax {Recipe compliments of Norwegian Salmon}
What you’ll need:
1 approximate 2- pound salmon fillet, skin on
3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
1 bunch dill, coarsely chopped

Gravlax sauce:
4 egg yolks
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil or mild olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon mustard
2-3 tablespoon finely chopped dill

What to do:
1. Trim salmon fillets. Scrape the skin well and remove all bones (if any).

2. Blend salt, sugar and pepper. Sprinkle half of the salt mixture in the bottom of a roasting pan, then sprinkle half of the dill over and place the fillet in the pan skin side down.

3. Press the remaining salt mixture and dill on the flesh side of the fillet, using light pressure.

4. Put fish in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Turn it every day. Scrape seasoning and dill from the fillets before serving.

5. Add salt to the egg yolks and stir until it reaches a thick consistency {NOTE: I used a blender to achieve this consistency}. Slowly pour in the oil while whisking quickly until the sauce is a consistency similar to mayonnaise.

6. Stir sugar, vinegar, pepper and mustard into the sauce. Just before use add the dill. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To plate: Cut the salmon into thin slices and serve with gravy, stewed potatoes or bread and salad.

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  1. 1

    Good Lord, uh HUH.

  2. 2

    Stunning picture! I love making gravlax (I use vodka, too, shhhh.:D ) and the whole story and your coverage was a great read. Love the post! Have a fantastic Christmas! 😀

  3. 3

    Oh my goodness! Looks amazing, Paula.

  4. 4
    Jen Hill /

    Love this blog, don’t want to be a whiner, but fish isn’t vegetarian. Clearly no vegetarian is going to come to your website and get confused and make this for themselves, but maybe some vegetarian’s mother-in-law might make it for them because the label says vegetarian. Just an angle people sometimes don’t think of. Thanks for the awesome blog!

    • 4.1
      Steve /

      actually fish is considered vegitarian by many….. i find it funny how many vegitarians will complain then eat eggs… but not a chicken breast….guess they rather the whole chicken at once

  5. 5

    This is some of the most beautiful salmon I have ever seen. I would love to try the Gravlax – it sounds wonderful, especially with some very good salmon. You are right…it is important to know where your food comes from. I will have to keep an eye out for Norwegian Salmon.

  6. 6

    Awesome! Want Norwegian Gravalax Now..Made with Wild Caught Salmon of course..Just Say No to GMO Salmon. Thanks for posting this!

  7. 7

    Thanks for the tutorial for us “seafoodies” — love that! The Norwegian salmon industry sounds more like a large family than a “business.” Nice to know they put their hearts and cumulative knowledge into their product! I’ve looked at your gravlax photo three…four…five times already — think I need to make a last minute change to my Christmas list!

  8. 8

    Love the pictures and the salmon looks absolutely amazing. The sauce sounds just perfect with the salmon. Now I’ll be looking for Norwegian Salmon when I’m shopping.

  9. 9

    That is a stunning piece of salmon! I love the back ground story as well, now I want to go to Norway and hop on a boat for a few days 😀

  10. 10

    LOVE the homemade Gravlax….I did the same & cannot believe how easy it it. Great post. Happy holidays 🙂

  11. 11

    This salmon is gorgeous. The color is stunning. Can’t wait for you to go to Norway and tell us all about it. Buon Natale bella xxoo

  12. 12

    Looks great! I’m scared of fish – but you do make it look easy!

  13. 13

    I have never heard of Norwegian Salmon. Is that different than Atlantic Salmon – or is it Atlantic Salmon – or Cohoe Salmon… what kind of salmon is it?
    Great piece to read as wild salmon fishing really needs to stop and sustainable fish farms done right are the way of our future.

  14. 14

    PS – I saw your post did refer to it as Atlantic Salmon… but I am just trying to wrap my head around the distinguishable characteristics, now. There must be many kinds of Atlantic Salmon.

  15. 15

    I’m with Kimby…awesome tutorial! And “seafoodies”…I’m totally stealing that!!! I’m a huge fan of delicious sustainable salmon, though this Norwegian salmon is some of the most gorgeous I’ve ever seen!! Let’s plan a trip to Norway shall we? 🙂

  16. 16


    I adore salmon – that is absolutely beautiful, friend!
    Smoked salmon is amazing!

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