The Gravlax Experiments: Mahi Squared


It was a little over a year ago that I first posted about my adventures in homemade gravlax. Since then, I’d pretty much gotten our preferred brine mixture proportions and curing time down to exacting amounts, but had not often varied from that most classic of combinations, salmon and dill. Last week, we were feeling salmoned-out and it was time to try something new. I opened the freezer, stared at a packet of frozen mahi mahi fillets and decided that it was going to be the subject of my latest experiment.

Now, I’ve seen mahi gravlax (the best way to describe it, but something of a misnomer since lax means salmon) recipes with various ingredients floating around for a while, but it was definitely in the “novelty” category from what I could tell. The closest such recipe is this one, which referenced Michael Greenwald’s The Cruising Chef Cookbook as a source. I figured, however, that any fish suitable for sashimi could translate pretty well if handled properly.

Using the same ingredients in the same proportions as I did for traditional gravlax, I substituted two thawed mahi mahi fillets instead. Since the writing of the original post, I’ve started streamlined the curing process by using two ziploc bags — toss the brine mixture in one, toss in the two fillets, shake until covered then press out the air, zip closed, and put into second bag for double protection. Takes a third of the time of using plastic wrap, and is far less likely to create a mess. Cured for roughly the same time (we prefer 8-10 hours, depending on the rapidity of fluid loss to the fish).

The mahi, in fact, lost fluid a LOT more rapidly than the salmon. Probably in part due to it having a lot less fat than salmon. At any rate, it was saltier than our fillets of salmon were, given the same amount of curing time, but still tasty in all other aspects. Cleaned off and sliced thinly, it paired beautifully with thin slices of brie, as seen above. Something creamy definitely helps to offset the salted fish taste, and the silky textures complement each other. The mahi definitely took on the flavors of the seasonings much more thoroughly than the salmon, and I probably would only try this preparation method with meatier, stronger-tasting fish since anything milder would be overwhelmed.

I have a couple more fillets of this curing at the moment, which I plan to take out earlier to see if they taste less briny. Having used the last of my dill supply on this batch, I fully intend to break out the cilantro for the next. Fishtastic updates to follow!


  1. Around here we totally give other things this treatment. It just becomes gravad whatever-fish. I enjoy gravad whitefish.

    • Excellent! I was wondering if cod might be too mild to handle it, but it pretty much follows along the lines of whitefish, so I think I’ll try it next! 😀

  2. I do mine with gin and juniper– I love juniper. Gin, juniper, salt, sugar and dill.

    • I’ve seen that recipe floating around a lot! Haven’t actually tried a wet cure yet, mostly because we never really have gin around. And also because we haven’t really had need for me to make my own since moving out here. It doesn’t leave much of an aftertaste, does it?

      • Not really– you rub a little gin over the salmon, spread some sugar-salt-juniper-dill mixture between the two fillets, press together and pour a splash of gin over the whole thing, before wrapping up and pressing.

        It doesn’t taste of alcohol when it’s done, and I have seen recipes that use vodka instead. Gin has lots of aromatics, which probably is good for the flavour generally.

        • Makes sense. I’ll give it a try once I get around to stocking the liquor cabinet later this year, since I do love lax in all its permutations. Our current liquor collection is mostly sweet frou-frou stuff for mixed drinks, so would probably do horrible things to fish. Heh.

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