Lox, Gravlax, Nova Lox
You wanna make Lox? C'mon, Let's make Lox!
The internet is not shy on recipes for various types of Lox. I've tried many and have found my preferences lie with the less complicated versions. I mean, I'm a simple guy, I pick up Atlantic salmon from the grocery store and cover it for 16 hours with equal parts kosher salt and sugar, rinse it off and let it rest for a couple of hours before slicing. And that's literally the recipe. Easy right?
But let's run through that again with pictures.
As I said earlier, I like to use Atlantic salmon. Make sure you are getting fresh fish and not buying the clearance or marked down selections that are nearing expiration. We're not cooking this, so freshness is very important.
Place salmon in shallow baking dish or any container just large enough to fit the filet with room to cover with salt sugar mixture. Next, mix the kosher salt and sugar together and cover salmon completely. I used 1 1/2 cups each for a total of 3 cups mixture in the pic below. Cover, and refrigerate for 16 hours.
Remove salmon from salt sugar mixture and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Let your Lox rest in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours before slicing. This relaxes the surface that gets a little tough from the curing process.
And that's Lox! More specifically, it is a simplistic version of Gravlax. For Nova Lox, after rinsing the salmon, cold smoke for 30-60 minutes (or longer depending on how smokey you want it) and then rest in fridge for a couple of hours and slice for serving.
I like my Lox slices on a toasted bagel with cream cheese, red onion, tomato, and diced egg, but capers and fresh dill are also popular accompaniments. Also go well on crackers as part of an appetizer plate.
So what is missing from this recipe that you'll find in more complex recipes? Well, first is timing. I see recipes that call for 24-48 hours of curing, and from my experience it just does not take that long to get a nice soft slice of Lox from your filet. In fact, any time I have cured longer than 24 hours, it has turned out like jerky. You will also see dill or lemon zest added to the curing process, going on the filet before burying with the salt and sugar. I prefer to add flavor later, on the bagel or serving board, and let people control their preferred flavor profiles. We are also not pressing the salmon during curing. Some instructions will call for adding weight to assist in the moisture extraction that he salt and sugar is doing. I have skipped that part for years with great results.