How to make Swedish cold poached salmon

Poached salmon is a Swedish summer classic. Food writer John Duxbury shares his recipe with The Local.

How to make Swedish cold poached salmon
Cold poached salmon. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food

Swedes cook the salmon by pouring boiling marinade over the fish and letting it slowly cool until cold. It is normally served cold with new potatoes and dill mayonnaise, often at Midsummer, but great any day really.


Serves: 4

Preparation: 5 minutes

Cooking: 15 minutes

Total: 20 minutes + cooling time


600g (1 ¼ lb) salmon fillet


1 ½ litres (3 pints) water

1 small onion, peeled and sliced

1 small red onion, peeled and sliced

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 unwaxed lemon, sliced

3-6 dill stalks, leaves removed

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp salt

6 white peppercorns

4 whole allspice berries

2 bay leaves

½ tsp fennel seeds, optional

1 star anise, optinonal

2 sheets of quick dissolving gelatine, optional

Method for individual portions

1. Place all the marinade ingredients in a large saucepan. Boil the marinade for five minutes. If you want to glaze individual portions, while the marinade is boiling soak the gelatine sheets into a bowl of cold water for four to five minutes and then gently squeeze the water from the gelatine and add to the hot marinade. Stir until the gelatine is dissolved.

2. Put the salmon pieces in the pan and return to the boil for one minute.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and let the fish cool slowly in the pan with the lid on.

4. When cold enough, transfer the pan to the fridge and leave to cool overnight.

Method for a whole piece

1. Pre-heat your oven to 140C.

2. Place all the marinade ingredients in a large saucepan. Boil for five minutes.

3. Optional step: while the marinade is boiling soak the gelatine sheets into a bowl of cold water for four to five minutes and then gently squeeze the water from the gelatine and add to the hot marinade. Stir until the gelatine is dissolved.

4. Lightly butter a large baking dish or roasting pan. Add the salmon, skin side up, and pour the marinade over it, ensuring that the salmon is completely covered.

5. Cook in the bottom of the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the temperature in the middle of the thickest part of the salmon reaches 50C.

6. Remove the salmon from the oven and let the fish cool slowly in the marinade.

7. When cold enough, transfer the dish to a fridge and leave to cool overnight.

8. Remove the fish from the marinade and let it drain a bit. Serve with new potatoes and a sauce of your choice (see the Swedish Food website for tips and recipes for sauces).


– For a party, a large piece of salmon looks stylish and often takes pride of place on a Swedish smörgåsbord (buffet). To make it more attractive, add some gelatine to the marinade to give the salmon a light gloss (see the optional ingredients above).

– In asparagus season, pair the salmon with new potatoes, asparagus and homemade mayonnaise or hollandaise sauce: fabulous! 

This recipe is published courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food.

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The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager’s dream

Although parts of Sweden are still under snow at this time of year, spring is in full swing here in Skåne in the south of Sweden. Here are The Local's top tips for what you can forage in the great outdoors this season.

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager's dream

You might already have your go-to svampställe where you forage mushrooms in autumn, but mushrooms aren’t the only thing you can forage in Sweden. The season for fruits and berries hasn’t quite started yet, but there is a wide range of produce on offer if you know where to look.

Obviously, all of these plants grow in the wild, meaning it’s a good idea to wash them thoroughly before you use them. You should also be respectful of nature and of other would-be foragers when you’re out foraging, and make sure not to take more than your fair share to ensure there’s enough for everyone.

As with all foraged foods, only pick and eat what you know. The plants in this guide do not look similar to any poisonous plants, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry – or ask someone who knows for help.

Additionally, avoid foraging plants close to the roadside or in other areas which could be more polluted. If you haven’t tried any of these plants before, start in small doses to make sure you don’t react negatively to them.

Wild garlic plants in a park in Alnarpsparken, Skåne. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Wild garlic

These pungent green leaves are just starting to pop up in shady wooded areas, and may even hang around as late as June in some areas. Wild garlic or ramsons, known as ramslök in Swedish, smell strongly of garlic and have wide, flat, pointed leaves which grow low to the ground.

The whole plant is edible: leaves, flowers and the bulbs underground – although try not to harvest too many bulbs or the plants won’t grow back next year.

The leaves have a very strong garlic taste which gets weaker once cooked. Common recipes for wild garlic include pesto and herb butter or herbed oil, but it can generally be used instead of traditional garlic in most recipes. If you’re cooking wild garlic, add it to the dish at the last possible moment so it still retains some flavour.

You can also preserve the flower buds and seed capsules as wild garlic capers, known as ramslökskapris in Swedish, which will then keep for up to a year.

Stinging nettles. Wear gloves when harvesting these to protect yourself from their needles. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Stinging nettles

Brännässlor or stinging nettles need to be cooked before eating to remove their sting, although blanching them for a couple of seconds in boiling water should do the trick. For the same reason, make sure you wear good gardening gloves when you pick them so you don’t get stung.

Nettles often grow in the same conditions as wild garlic – shady woodlands, and are often regarded as weeds.

The younger leaves are best – they can get stringy and tough as they get older.

A very traditional use for brännässlor in Sweden is nässelsoppa, a bright green soup made from blanched nettles, often topped with a boiled or poached egg.

Some Swedes may also remember eating stuvade nässlor with salmon around Easter, where the nettles are cooked with cream, butter and milk. If you can’t get hold of nettles, they can be replaced with spinach for a similar result.

You can also dry nettles and use them to make tea, or use blanched nettles to make nettle pesto.

Kirskål or ground elder, another popular foraged green for this time of year.
Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Ground elder

Ground elder is known as kirskål in Swedish, and can be used much in the same way as spinach. It also grows in shady areas, and is an invasive species, meaning that you shouldn’t be too worried about foraging too much of it (you might even find some in your garden!).

It is quite common in parks and old gardens, but can also be found in wooded areas. The stems and older leaves can be bitter, so try to focus on foraging the tender, younger leaves.

Ground elder has been cultivated in Sweden since at least 500BC, and has been historically used as a medicinal herb and as a vegetable. This is one of the reasons it can be found in old gardens near Swedish castles or country homes, as it was grown for use in cooking.

Kirskål is available from March to September, although it is best eaten earlier in the season.

As mentioned, ground elder can replace spinach in many recipes – you could also use it for pesto, in a quiche or salad, or to make ground elder soup.