Gravlax med hovmästarsås och två sorters sill - Gravlax With Mustard Sauce and Two Kinds of Herring!

Salmon and Herring are essential on the Swedish Smorgasbord and for Easter it is time to enjoy these favourite dishes again. Though the Easter spread is not as ambitious as the one we put on for Christmas, we do make the effort of having Gravlax, two or more types of pickled herring, Janssons and meatballs.

Gravlax and herrings are also enjoyed as breakfast food throughout the year, and as a light dinner with boiled potatoes and spinach and eggs.

Gravlax is very easy to make at home. You just have to remember to freeze the salmon first, for 48 hours, or simply buy frozen salmon fillets, which is usually the cheaper option here.

1 kg of frozen salmon (cut off the head and tail)
2 tsp white peppercorns, coarsely ground
4 tbsp salt
4 tbsp cugar
dill, coarslely chopped


Half-thaw the salmon, cut it into two fillets. Leave the skin on, Remove all the bones, even the tiny ones. Wipe the fillets.

Mix white pepper, salt and sugar, rub the fillets with about 1/3 of the mixture.

Then sandwich the fillets together, meat side to meat side with the dill and the rest of the spice mix in between. Place the thick end of one fillet to the thin side of the other, so that you get a somewhat even thickness on either end.

Place the fillets like this in a plastic bag on a plate in the frisge and let it sit for two days. Turn it over a couple of times. It is ready after about 2 days. Pour off the fluid that forms or the salmon will be too salty.

Scrape off the salt and dill mixture before serving. Cut the fillets across on a slant, thinly, Garnish with lemon, lime or dill, and serve with blanced spinach, eggs and potatoes, or this mustard sauce:

Hovmästarsås- Mustard Sauce


1/2 dl sweet mustard
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 pinches salt
1 dl neutral oil (I use rapeseed)
pinch of white pepper, freshly ground
1 dl chopped dill


Mix the mustards with sugar, salt and vinegar. Add the oil drop by drop, whisking constantly until a thick sauce is formed. If the sauce doesn't thicken up, use a stick blender. Add the dill.

Two types of herring:

For this first herring I don't have a recipe as such. In the old days they would go by taste, or they had the recipe "in their hands", as my grandmother would say when I asked her for particular recipes. Watch and learn, she said. And I did! But the ingredients aren't the same as they were, and for the purposes of a blog, having the recipe in writing sure helps... So I have experimented my way to an actual recipe for this herring pickle, and it is a very simple dish to make:

Onion Pickled Herring - serves 4-6


4 pre-salted herrings, soaked in water overnight to remove the salt 
1 big onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp crushed allspice peppercorns

Pickling solution:
1/2 dl pickling vinergar (12%)
0.9 dl sugar
1 1/2 water


Cut the herrings in slanted slices, place on a serving dish in rows next to each other. Line up the chopped onion on top of the herring rows. Then do the same with the allspice. You end up with two beautifully striped rows. If there isn't enough onion or allspice, use more.

Mix the pickling solution until the sugar melts and pour it carefully over the dish so that the herrings and spices are covered. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Place in the fridge, leave for 24 hours.

My grandmother made a spicy herring pickle from herring that she salted herself. That is a complicated and time consuming process, and nowadays pre-salted and soaked herring is available in all shops in Sweden, and pickling herring is much easier and quicker. It is also nice not to have to worry about the risk of botulism that comes with home preserving.

Spicy Herring Pickle 

2 cans of pre-salted, soaked pickling herring. 
30 allspice peppercorns, crushed
30 black peppercorns, crushed
10 cloves, crushed 
3 bay leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 dl chopped red onions

Pickling solution:
4 tbsp pickling vinegar, 12% dilution
1 dl water
1 dl sugar

Mix the pickling solution together until the sugar is completely dissolved. 

Crush the spices. Layer the herring in a bowl, alternating the spices, onion and herrings. Pour over the solution and cover with lid or plastic wrap. Leave in fridge a couple of days before serving.

These herrings are delicious on the Smorgasbord, or served with boiled potatoes and sourcream.  

Have a lovely Easter!


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