Cruise ship recipe for:
 from: Chef Dirk Helsig

Chef Dirk Helsig, Executive Chef for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines shares his secret with "Gravlaks"!


Scandinavian heritage displays great expertise in the arts of pickling, smoking and curing meats and fish. This dish – easy to prepare and made by Scandinavian housewives along with the pickling of herring – is now available world wide in gourmet restaurants. Salmon is the fish to use traditionally. The literal translation is “buried Salmon” and refers to the age old practice of salting and coating the fish with herbs and dried spices and then burying it as winter sets in. The ground freezes and in Spring the following year there is still a plentiful supply of food to be simply dug out of the semi-frozen ground.

The Curing Salt
½ lb sea or table salt
1 lb granulated sugar
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons juniper berries
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
3 tablespoons whole white peppercorns
1 large bunch of fresh dill, chopped.

Honey Mustard Sauce
4 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
Ground pepper
Juice of one whole lemon

Method for Gravlaks
One side of salmon, skin on and all bones removed. Belly and fin base trimmed and any membranes removed. If you do not want to do this yourself, a good fishmonger will prepare it for you.

Warm the caraway seeds, juniper berries, coriander and peppercorns until hot.

With a pestle and mortar or grinder crush all the dried spices until roughly ground. Alternatively, place them in a food processor and grind them a little. You will find that the heating of all these spices allows the oils and aromas to be released more easily.

Add the spices to the sugar and salt, mix them evenly and if possible place covered overnight at room temperature.

Now take a shallow container and sprinkle an inch layer of the mixture on the bottom.

Place the fillet of Salmon skin side down on the mixture. Coat the remaining salmon with at least an inch of the mixture, making sure you cover all areas. Cover with a clean cloth or plastic wrap on top, place a weight on top and cure in the refrigerator for 36 hours.

You will see that a large amount of juices collect in the dish. Keep some of this and use a little to add more flavour to your accompanying mustard sauce.

Remove the salmon fillet from the tray, scrape off and discard the curing salt. Rub the flesh with some extra virgin olive oil and coat liberally with the chopped dill. Now it is ready to slice and serve.

For the sauce, simply mix all ingredients together and thin a little with the excess juice from the curing process.

You can serve the salmon cold as a starter, canapé or serve wafer thin over hot steamed new potatoes with a mustard dill hollandaise.

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 Cruise Line Executive Chef
 Dirk Helsig

Executive Chef Dirk Helsig for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Dirk Helsig, Executive Chef for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines was born in Koblenz in Germany but grew up in the Black Forest on the Swiss border.  He did his chef’s training at the Black Forest Hotel Alpenblick in Germany and at the Charlton Hotel St Moritz.

Dirk Helsig worked in Germany for a while before he moved to London where he worked at the Swiss Centre in Leicester Square and also at the famous Ivy restaurant before deciding to go to sea. 

He has worked for several different cruise lines including Royal Viking Line, Cunard, Seabourn and Holland America Line.  He has been with Fred Olsen nearly 5 years now and has worked on board all the ships in the fleet. He is currently on board Boudicca. 

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