Moroccan Cured King Salmon Gravlax

As part of the Copper River Salmon Fresh Catch Crew, I was recently sent another shipment of fresh salmon from Alaska.

I know, my life really doesn’t suck right now.

The King salmon I was sent is aptly named – it is nothing less than  regal. It is the largest of the salmon that run the Copper River, with the highest fat content. It has a saturated orange color and an extremely rich mouthfeel. This salmon has only a one month season, so I didn’t want to play with it too much. I was very lucky to get some, and just wanted to accentuate its natural lushness and mild taste.

That’s when I came across this recipe for Moroccan gravlax. I had no idea how it would work, and I also didn’t want to spend THAT much time finding all the spices, toasting them, measuring them…etc. Bottom line – I wanted a shortcut.

That’s when I thought about using ras el hanout. Though there are many different varieties, this Moroccan spice blend tends to use aromatic and smoky spices like cumin, coriander, and ground rose. It has the deep, complex charictaristics of curry without actually USING any curry. Thus, it is perfect for accenting the fish instead of overpowering it. I thought I would add some aromatic vegetables and give it a whirl.

What I came up with might just be the best fish recipe I have ever made. Mild, complex, smooth, and incredibly easy to make!

Moroccan Cured Gravlax


1 lb. salmon fillet

1/4 cup salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup ras el hanout

Zest of 1 orange

1/4 cup fennel bulb, diced

1 loaf pan lined with cling wrap

1 brick or a few heavy cans

1. Mix all ingredients except salmon in a bowl until they are well combined.

2. Put the salmon skin side down into the loaf pan, and rub the seasoning all over the visible parts of the fish.

Be sure to get it everywhere, including the sides. You really want to pat it on thickly.

3. Roll up the sides of the cling wrap so the salmon is totally enclosed in plastic.

Add another piece or two of cling wrap if you need to ensure that the salmon is totally enclosed.

4. Put your weight, brick, or cans atop the salmon. Then put it in the fridge for 48 hours. No moving, no peeking!

5. By the time that you check on the salmon, it should have released quite a bit of moisture in the loaf pan, and the salmon should be  flat. Unwrap the salmon and put it on a plate.

6. Using the back of a butter knife, scrape excess seasoning off the salmon. Be gentle, as you will see that the salmon has become very delicate.

It will also have turned an almost glowing pinky-orange. This is the result of the salt and sugar curing the salmon.

7. Using a gravlax knife or a very sharp, flexible knife, slice velum thin slices of the salmon, just down to the skin but not cutting through the skin. Angle the knife so that you cut away thin pieces of the salmon without the skin. Go against the grain, on the bias. The grain changes on the salmon, and you may have to change the direction that you cut several times.

If you are not very skilled, you will end up leaving quite a bit of salmon on the skin – it just gets too difficult to slice all the way down to the skin, and you really want thin, even slices. It’s okay – just let it go or feed it to the cat. Lucky cat…

8. Garnish with a sprig of fennel and serve.

This is just astonishingly delicious. The salmon takes on the fresh orange taste, the sweet fennel, and the smoky warmth of the ras el hanout. It is not at all salty like some gravlax, just saline in the natural way that seafood is. When sliced thin, it almost melts on the tongue, leaving behind just the taste of the salmon and the aromatic  spices. This is almost the un-recipe – very set it and forget it! It is a welcome mix up from the classic dill gravlax and is fabulous with greek yogurt on brown bread.

With a gravlax like this, it’s easy to say long live the King!

Disclaimer: I was given the sockeye salmon as a sample. I am not being monetarily compensated for my opinions or recipes.


  1. I want that now! They should hire you at Russ and Daughters! xx

  2. YUM! I make gravlax all the time but this spicing sounds new and delish!

  3. I always wanted to cure my own salmon but have been reluctant due to the possibility of food poisoning myself.


  1. […] follows the exact same method as used here, so refer there for the picture diagram, but here are some step by step instructions for making […]