Tequila and Adobo Cured Salmon (Texan Gravlax)

A Texan twist on the classic Scandinavian dish


This is based on the original Julia Child recipe for Gravlax, which she herself learned from Norwegian kitchen masters. I’ve added a Texan twist, just for fun. This recipe is really easy to make and you have control over the ingredients!


2 1.5-pounds of fresh salmon filets, skin on. Make sure they are equal in size (important!). Ask the fish monger to remove any pinbones.
1 1/2 Tablespoons sea salt (plus more if needed)
3 teaspoons Adobo seasoning*
1 1/2 Tablespoons coconut or maple sugar (plus more if needed)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh dill
3 tablespoons silver/platinum tequila
1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest


Rinse the salmon and pat dry. Trim the salmon to make sure they are the same size. If you have to remove a small portion, you can always use it for something else later. Run you fingers up the filet, checking to make sure there are no remaining pin bones. If so, you can use tweezers to remove them.

Mix the salt, sugar and adobo seasoning in a bowl, then rub the mixture into the flesh side of the fish. Place one filet skin-side down into a deep baking dish. Sprinkle the cilantro, dill and lime zest over it, then pour the tequila and lime juice. Place the next filet skin-side up, on top of the other filet, making sure that it fits evenly (e.g. the skinnier ends near the tails match up with both pieces). If you have several different pieces of salmon filet, you may have to get creative and move them around like pieces of puzzle, until bottom pieces and top pieces match.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap, then place a heavy weight on top, such as a heavy cutting board, or another baking dish with some cans inside.  Refrigerate for 1 day, then turn the fish over, so that the filet that was on the bottom is now on the top, baste the flesh with accumulated juices and return to the fridge. On the second day, slice off a small portion of the filet and taste it. Adjust the seasonings if needed. Return to the fridge and marinate for 2 more days, turning and basting every 12 hours.

To serve, clean the marinade off the fish and wipe dry with paper towels. As per Julia Child’s instructions:

With a long thin-bladed slicing kife, held at a very flat angle, start slicing a few inches from the narrow end of the filet. Cut with a back-and-forth sawing motion, toward the narrow end, to remove a thin slice of fish. Start each succeeding slice a bit rather in from the end of the filet; always cut at a flat angle, to keep the slices long and as thin as possible. When the blade reaches the skin, shave the slice off – don’t cut through the skin. You may trim away and discard the dark flesh that was next to the skin. The Norwegians leave it on.

You can discard the skin (or try making crispy salmon skin like they do in sushi restaurants!).

Garnish with fresh dill, cilantro and lime wedges.

Once the curing process is over, the gravlax can stay fresh in the fridge for up to a week. You can also freeze any leftover salmon. So save some for your next brunch and top with Hollandaise! 🙂



* Be careful of store-bought adobo seasoning. You can easily make your own and set it aside to use for rubs and marinades.