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.

For members


Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden

Do you know your biskvi from your bakelse? Your chokladboll from your kanelbulle? Here's a guide guaranteed to get your mouth watering.

Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden


The most famous of all Swedish cakes outside Sweden, the classic kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) is the symbol of Sweden abroad, no doubt helped by the fact that Swedish furniture giants IKEA stock frozen buns in their food stores for customers to bake off at home.

Forget American tear-apart cinnamon rolls baked in a pan and slathered with cream cheese frosting: a classic Swedish cinnamon bun is baked individually using a yeasted dough spread with cinnamon sugar and butter. The dough is then rolled up, sliced into strips which are then stretched out and knotted into buns, baked, glazed with sugar syrup and sprinkled with pearl sugar.

Home-made varieties skip the stretching and knotting step, rolling the cinnamon-sprinkled dough into a spiral instead which, although less traditional, tastes just as good.

Kanelbullar in Sweden often include a small amount of Sweden’s favourite spice: cardamom. If you’re a fan of cardamom, try ordering the kanelbulle‘s even more Swedish cousin, the kardemummabulle or cardamom bun, which skips the cinnamon entirely and goes all-out on cardamom instead.

Sweden celebrates cinnamon bun day (kanelbullens dag) on October 4th.

Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/


A great option if you want a smaller cake for your fika, the chokladboll or ‘chocolate ball’ is a perfect accompaniment to coffee – some recipes even call for mixing cold coffee into the batter.

They aren’t baked and are relatively easy to make, meaning they are a popular choice for parents (or grandparents) wanting to involve children in the cake-making process.

Chokladbollar are a simple mix of sugar, oats, melted butter and cocoa powder, with the optional addition of vanilla or coffee, or occasionally rum extract. They are rolled into balls which are then rolled in desiccated coconut (or occasionally pearl sugar), and placed in the fridge to become more solid.

Some bakeries or cafés also offer dadelbollar or rawbollar/råbollar (date or raw balls), a vegan alternative made from dried dates and nuts blended together with cocoa powder.

Chocolate ball day (chokladbollens dag) falls on May 11th.

Photo: Magnus Carlsson/


The lime-green prinsesstårta or ‘princess cake’ may look like a modern invention with it’s brightly-coloured marzipan covering, but it has been around since the beginning of the 1900s, and is named after three Swedish princesses, Margareta, Märta and Astrid, who were supposedly especially fond of the cake.

The cake consists of a sponge bottom spread with jam, crème pâtissière and a dome of whipped cream, covered in green marzipan and some sort of decoration, often a marzipan rose.

Prinsesstårtor can also be served in individual portions, small slices of a log which are then referred to as a prinsessbakelse.

Although the cakes are popular all year round, in the Swedish region of Småland, prinsesstårta is eaten on the first Thursday in March, due to this being the unofficial national day of the Småland region (as the phrase första torsdagen i mars is pronounced fössta tossdan i mass in the Småland dialect).

Since 2004, the Association of Swedish Bakers and Confectioners has designated the last week of September as prinsesstårtans vecka (Princess cake day).

Photo: Sinikka Halme, Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0.


Belonging to the more traditional cakes, a Budapestbakelse or “Budapest slice” is a type of rulltårta or “roll cake” similar to a Swiss roll, consisting of a light and crispy cake made from whipped egg whites, sugar and hazelnut, filled with whipped cream and fruit, often chopped conserved peaches, nectarines or mandarines, and rolled into a log.

The log is then sliced into individual portions and drizzled with chocolate, then often topped with whipped cream and a slice of fruit. 

Despite its name, the Budapest slice has nothing to do with the city of Budapest – it was supposedly invented by baker Ingvar Strid in 1926 and received the name due to Strid’s love for the Hungarian capital.

Of course, the Budapestbakelse also has its own day – May 1st.

Kanelbullar (left), chokladbollar (centre) and biskvier (right). Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/


Another smaller cake, a biskvi (pronounced like the French biscuit), consists of an almond biscuit base, covered in buttercream (usually chocolate flavoured), and dark chocolate.

Different variants of biskvier exist, such as a Sarah Bernhardt, named after the French actress of the same name, which has chocolate truffle instead of buttercream.

You might also spot biskvier with white chocolate, often with a hallon (raspberry) or citron (lemon) filling, or even saffransbiskvier around Christmastime.

Chokladbiskviens dag is celebrated on November 11th.