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New York’s Top Smoked Fish House Shares its Recipe for Beet-Cured Gravlax

Acme Smoked Fish provides salmon and much more for institutions like Russ & Daughters

If you’re looking for a primer on the difference between lox, Nova, and smoked salmon, this isn’t it (though you’ll find that here). This is an ode to gravlax, a specific style of lox (or more accurately, belly lox) that has been cured in both sugar and salt. Unlike many of its salmon siblings, gravlax isn’t smoked but rather weighted down and wrapped up tight in a sugar/salt mixture along with other possible ingredients like dill or beets, then left for days to cure.

For over 100 years, New York’s best smoked and cured fish — including gravlax — has come from one place: Acme Smoked Fish, which sells the likes of salmon, whitefish, sable, and trout to some of New York City’s most famous appetizing stores (yes, including Russ and Daughters). So Richard Schiff, Acme’s VP of northeast sales, joined Eater’s Instagram to demonstrate how to make a simple, dill-drenched beet-cured gravlax at home. Find the recipe below as well as Schiff’s pro tips.

Beet Gravlax

A slab of red, raw salmon rests on a counter beside a thin knife for cutting slices of lox
Courtesy of Richard Schiff
Courtesy of Richard Schiff

1 fresh salmon fillet
2 cups white sugar
1 cup salt
4 to 5 raw beets, grated
Large bunch of fresh dill, chopped (more if you love dill)

Mix sugar and salt together; set aside.

Place salmon in a tray or deep pan that will hold the liquid that will develop over the course of the curing. Cover with the sugar/salt mixture. Note: You may need more sugar and salt depending on the size of the salmon. A 2:1 sugar to salt ratio should be kept in mind.

Then, cover entirely with dill and grated beets (remembering not to be shy with the dill) and wrap loosely with plastic wrap. Place another tray on top of salmon along with a couple of bricks or cans on top, to press it down. Chill in the fridge for the next 48 hours, flipping the salmon every 8 hours or so to ensure it cures evenly.

Once the 2 days are up, the salmon should firm up nicely from the cure and slice easily. If it’s too soft, it may need more time in the cure.

Rinse off with cold water when done to remove an excess salt. Slice and enjoy with either sliced bread, eggs, a bagel, or on its own.