homemade smoked salmon with dill on a wooden table
The Crucial Difference Between Gravlax And Smoked Salmon
By Jennifer Waldera
Gravlax and smoked salmon look quite similar, as both have a bold, bright pink-orange color with a slightly oily sheen. Additionally, both are often finely cut into thin slices.
The primary difference is how they are prepared. Gravlax is made by curing the fish, whereas smoked salmon is, of course, smoked, resulting in variations in flavor between the two.
Gravlax was born in the Middle Ages when Scandinavian fishermen would cure salmon with a brine — some would use solely salt, while others also used herbs and spices.
The fish was then buried in sand and covered with birch bark for several days. The name itself indicates its preparation — "grav" translating to "grave" and "lax" meaning "salmon."
Modern gravlax still takes several days but uses the refrigerator instead of the ground. The brine still contains salt but also includes sugar, citrus zest, and other add-ins.
Smoked salmon can be either cold- or hot-smoked. Cold-smoked is the type that’s commonly eaten on a bagel with cream cheese, with a flavor that’s mildly fishy, yet smoky and salty.
Hot-smoked salmon looks similar to conventionally cooked salmon and is both firm and flaky, but its texture means it’s not interchangeable with cold-smoked salmon or gravlax.