How Can You Craft a Delicate Beet and Horseradish Cured Salmon for Your Charcuterie Board?

April 17, 2024

Creating a stunning charcuterie board is an art that calls for a balanced mix of flavors, colors, and textures. If you’re looking to take your spread to the next level, we have a compelling delicacy to share with you: beet and horseradish cured salmon. This is a mouthwatering recipe that not only tastes fantastic but also adds a vibrant pop of color to your board. It’s a relatively easy-to-follow method that will reward you with a unique, smoky, and slightly sweet gravlax that’s cured to perfection.

The Origin of Gravlax

Before diving into the recipe, let’s explore what gravlax is and where it originates. Gravlax is a Nordic dish comprising raw salmon, cured in salt, sugar, and dill. The name ‘gravlax’ originates from the Scandinavian word ‘grav’, which translates to ‘grave’, and ‘lax’, meaning ‘salmon’. This name is derived from the traditional method of preparation, which involved burying the salmon in a hole in the ground, a process similar to curing. This method was used to preserve the fish for periods when food was scarce.

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Gravlax has evolved over time, and modern recipes often include other ingredients such as beetroot and horseradish for added flavor and color. It’s typically served as an appetizer, thinly sliced and accompanied by a dill and mustard sauce, although it can also make a stunning addition to a charcuterie board.

Your Easy Salmon Gravlax Recipe

The real beauty of this recipe lies in its simplicity. The curing process itself is uncomplicated, relying on only a few ingredients: fresh salmon, salt, sugar, beetroot, horseradish, and dill. This is not a smoked salmon recipe, so you don’t need any special equipment. The curing process imparts the fish with a smoky flavor profile that makes it an excellent alternative to smoked salmon.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • One side of fresh salmon, skin on, and pin bones removed
  • 200g of beetroot, peeled and grated
  • 100g of fresh horseradish, peeled and grated
  • 50g of salt
  • 50g of sugar
  • A large bunch of fresh dill, finely chopped

The Curing Process

The curing process requires time and patience but is relatively easy to master. The salt and sugar work together to draw out the moisture from the fish, effectively curing it. The beetroot and horseradish infuse their flavors into the salmon, while also lending their vibrant colors, resulting in a beautifully cured salmon that’s as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate.

First, mix the salt and sugar together in a bowl. Then, in a separate bowl, combine the grated beetroot, grated horseradish, and chopped dill. Spread half of the beetroot mixture on a piece of cling film, lay the salmon skin-side down on top, and then cover the salmon with the rest of the beetroot mixture. Finally, wrap the salmon tightly in the cling film, place it on a tray, and refrigerate.

The curing process will take at least 48 hours, but for best results, you could leave it for up to 72 hours. During this time, the salt and sugar will draw out the moisture from the salmon, and the flavors from the beetroot and horseradish will permeate the fish.

Accompanying Sauce for Your Cured Salmon

While your salmon is curing beautifully in the fridge, you can spend some time preparing an accompanying sauce. A traditional dill and mustard sauce, also known as gravlaxsås, compliments the cured salmon perfectly. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • A large bunch of fresh dill, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the mustard, sugar, and vinegar in a bowl, and gradually whisk in the oil. Stir in the chopped dill and season with salt and pepper to taste. This sauce should be made at least a few hours ahead of serving to allow the flavors to marry, but it can be made up to a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Serving Your Beet and Horseradish Cured Salmon

Serving your cured salmon is the final step in this culinary journey. When the curing process is complete, you will notice that the salmon has a firmer texture and a vibrant color. Rinse the cure off under cold water and pat dry.

Slice the salmon as thin as you can, using a very sharp knife. Remember, you want your guests to savor the delicate flavors of the dish, so thin slices are ideal. Arrange these on your charcuterie board with a variety of cheeses, crackers, and fresh fruits. Don’t forget to include the dill and mustard sauce as a topping or a side.

With the addition of your beet and horseradish cured salmon, your charcuterie board will become a centerpiece of conversation and a feast for the senses. It’s a testament to your culinary prowess, and a delightful surprise for your guests. Enjoy the process, and most importantly, savor the spectacular flavors of your homemade cured salmon.

Alternative Beet and Horseradish Creme Fraiche

In case you want to switch up your gravlax accompaniment, consider whipping up a beet and horseradish creme fraiche as an alternative to the traditional mustard and dill sauce. The tangy sourness of the creme fraiche pairs well with the smoky flavors of the cured salmon, while the beet and horseradish add a bit of zing.

You’ll need:

  • 200g of beetroot, cooked and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh horseradish, grated
  • 1 cup of creme fraiche
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the cooked beetroot in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the grated horseradish, creme fraiche, and lemon zest and juice, then season with salt and pepper. Blend again until everything is well combined. You can make this a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator.

To serve, spread a dollop of the beet and horseradish creme fraiche on a thin slice of cured salmon, or offer it on the side as a vibrant and tasty addition to your charcuterie board.

Taking It a Step Further: Adding Smoky Flavor

If you’d like to add an extra dimension to your beet and horseradish cured salmon, consider introducing a smoky flavor. While this recipe doesn’t involve smoking the fish, you can still impart a smoky taste by using a bit of liquid smoke in your cure.

Liquid smoke is a natural product made from condensing the smoke from burning wood. It’s potent stuff, so you’ll only need a few drops. Mix it in with your beetroot, horseradish, salt, and sugar before applying the cure to your salmon.

With this added smoky flavor, your home-cured salmon will be even more reminiscent of traditional smoked salmon, but with a unique twist that’s sure to impress.


Crafting a beet and horseradish cured salmon for your charcuterie board is not just a culinary endeavor, it’s an artistic expression. The vibrant colors, the balanced flavors, and the craft involved in curing the salmon make this dish an experience to savor. Whether you stick to the traditional recipe or add your own variations, the end result will be a delightful addition to your charcuterie board that your guests are sure to enjoy.

Remember, it’s not just about the destination, but the journey. From selecting a fresh side of salmon, to waiting for the flavors to develop during the curing process, to finally presenting your creation on a beautifully arranged charcuterie board, each step is part of the joy of cooking. So, embrace the process, and let your culinary creativity shine. Most importantly, savor the moment when you finally get to taste your beet and horseradish cured salmon, knowing that it’s a dish crafted with patience, love, and a dash of adventure.