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Homemade Gravlax or Lox is one of my FAVORITE things to make when the salmon season gets underway here in Alaska. But I felt like it was maybe time to try a new recipe for Spruce Tips Gravlax, and I think I nailed it.
Spruce Tips Gravlax Recipe
I always use my favorite recipe year after year, it’s a good one made with vodka, lemons, and dill, and it’s ALWAYS fabulous. This year with all my foraging I decided to try something a little more Alaskan.
If you’re not interested in using wild foraged spruce tips, but you still want a solid Gravlax recipe, I can’t recommend my original recipe enough. This recipe for Spruce Tips Gravlax, or my original, is the perfect gift for giving too.
Plus you can’t go wrong when you pull out a home-cured Salmon snack for your guests. Be it smoked salmon, smoked salmon dip, or my lox recipe.
A quick note: this Spruce Tips Gravlax Recipe is a cold cured salmon that is not cooked and not smoked. If you can’t eat cold cured salmon, then this isn’t the recipe for you.
Maybe smoked salmon is what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a good lox recipe to serve with bagels and cream, then this recipe IS for you.
It’s SALMON SEASON
Yep, you heard it heard the salmon are running! Time for ALL our salmon favorites including the BEST beer-battered fish recipe USING SALMON! The season starts here in Alaska with the Copper River Red Run which is always fabulously out of our price range. And getting our own first of the season Copper River Red isn’t likely to happen for us.
Luckily you DON’T need a Copper River Red to make the Spruce Tip Gravlax, ANY good clean red or sockeye salmon will do. We enjoy red salmon. They’re plentiful, we can dipnet the hell out of them in the summer. And if we DON”T catch any then they are affordable to purchase.
Spruce Tip Season
Yes, the spruce tips are still edible and plentiful. Even in my yard here in South Central. Trees at higher elevations and/or farther north, come into season later than than local trees.
I also found that on my property the north side of the trees still had small spruce tips that had yet to emerge, so there are spruce tips out there!
To gather the spruce tips find a yellow spruce tree on your property or the property of a friend. When the tree starts to produce small new bright green tips on the edges of the branches pick that’s when you harvest them. Pick 1-2 per branch only, never forage a plant of ALL new growth. Use those new tips for spruce tip gravlax.
What to do with Gravlax?
After the salmon has been cured the most important thing to remember is do not cook it. Once it’s cold cured, it’s ready to eat, the worst thing you could do was then cook it.
When the salmon is cured you need to store it, and freezing it is your best bet because cold cured salmon is not shelf-stable. Vacuum packing is the best way to store it in the freezer. Cut the fillets into pieces big enough to serve several people and vacuum pack each piece individually. If you need more for an event or party simply pull 2-3 packages.
How to serve gravlax
There’s always the classic bagels, cream cheese, and lox for breakfast or brunch. Consider Mini Bagels for party bites, they’re unique and tasty with fresh cold cured salmon. You can make Mini Bagels or buy them easily enough!
And our family ALWAYS enjoys lox, cheese, and crackers. It’s really nice to be able to go to the freezer and pull out some homemade lox or even smoked salmon for a mid winter snack.
You can also make Eggs Benedict and add a slice or two of Gravlax to them.
- 1 Red Salmon, cleaned, filleted, trimmed, pin bones removed
- 3/4 cup Sugar
- 3/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup cracked peppercorns
- 1 cup spruce tips, cleaned, picked over
- 2/3 cup vodka
- lay the salmon skin side down in a non-reactive pan
- mix the sugar, salt, and peppercorns together
- sprinkle the mix evenly over the salomn fillets
- pour the vodka over the salmon, slowly so it doesnt just wash off the salt and sugar mix
- lay the spruce tips over one of the fillets
- top with the other fillet, meat side down
- wrap the pan in plastic wrap and a layer of foil over that
- place it in the fridge and place a cutting board with a couple of heavey cans on top of it
- let it cure 2-3 days
- turn every 12 hours, wrap in fresh plastic wrap and foil
- after 48 hours slice a small piece off and taste it if it takes silky smooth and like lox then it's ready, if not keep turning for 24 more hours--3 days is probably the longest you want to cure this salmon for
- I cut each fillet in half and vacuum pack those and freeze them until we need a bit of fresh salmon, thaw before using
- to serve, use a sharp fillet knife and slice down through the salmon to the skin, turn the knife sideways, away from you and slice the salmon off the skin Always slice as thinly as possible
- you can slice a lemon and add it between the fillets if you like lemony flavors