Gravlax and Mustard Sauce: Perfect Partner

The only condiment worthy of gravlax.

By Hunter Lewis

Published on May 7, 2008

The salt-and-sugar-cured salmon preparation known as gravlax (see Miracle Cure is a cornerstone of Scandinavian cooking, especially in Sweden, where the thin-sliced delicacy is served with a tangy, refreshing mustard-dill sauce (called gravlaxsas in Swedish). As with many sacred food pairings, the origins are hard to determine; an encyclopedia of Swedish cuisine I consulted said the first known reference to the serving of gravlax with a mustard-dill sauce appeared in a letter written by a French diplomat, who reportedly tasted the two foods together—and emphatically disliked both—during a visit to the Swedish royal court in the 1640s. Whatever the circumstances of its birth, the pairing today is taken utterly for granted in Sweden. "It's so embedded in our mind," says Ulrika Bengtsson, who was the chef at the Swedish consulate in New York City for six years. "When you get gravlax, you look for the mustard sauce."

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