Lox on Fearless Friday

Heather says:

<textarea id="b_2" style=Welcome to this week’s Fearless Friday. It’s a chance to push against your usual culinary boundaries. We have nearly 2,000 readers here on Home-Ec101.com and with that audience there are cooks of every level. Did you try a new recipe, learn a new technique, or did you sample a new food? Whatever steps you took and wether it was a success or failure, we’d like to hear about it. If you have a blog, link using the Mr. Linky tool. If you don’t, tell everyone in the comments. 

Many years ago I was a nanny for a wonderful couple. They had relatives from the Boston area who would visit from time to time, always bringing treats. One such treat was lox, a salted cured salmon often eaten on bagels with cream cheese. I may not have much of a sweet tooth, but offer me a salty snack and I’ll be your friend for life. What can I say, I’m easy. Easy going, not a word, peanut gallery.

While searching for ideas for this series, I wandered across Holy Crap I Cured Salmon on Al Forno, a blog written by one of my local culinary heroes. I thought to myself, if Robert could do it, I could certainly try.

sugar-and-spiceAfter a lot of Googling, I have enough cookbooks thank you very much. I discovered the magic ratio for salmon curing seemed to be 1:1:2 of sugar, fresh ground pepper, and kosher salt. 

naked-salmonIt had been many years since I’d even had lox, with that in mind, I bought a very small piece of salmon for the experiment. I carefully checked for bones. If there had been any, they would have been removed.

coated-salmonI rinsed the salmon and patted it dry with a paper towel.  I stirred together the brown sugar, black pepper, and kosher salt. Then pressed the mixture firmly into all sides of the salmon. I had to pause to take the picture, I thought it was a neat contrast.

ready-to-drainOnce the salmon was thickly coated on all sides, I wrapped it in plastic wrap, leaving the sides slightly open. Salmon naturally has a lot of water, the curing process draws out much of the water and it needs somewhere to go. To allow the liquid to drain off, I set the salmon on a clean lid in a dish with a curved rim. I have children who rummage in the refrigerator and I was concerned about spills. It’s annoying enough to wipe out the fridge each week without worrying about salty fish juice.   On top of the fish, I placed a clean plate.

Every morning and evening I rinsed the bottom plate and flipped the filet. I did not open the saran wrap. I have to admit, by Wednesday I was beginning to eye the fish with a feeling of unease. Was this a waste of time? Was it going to be disgusting? It appeared as though the salt was gone. I began to wonder if I had coated it thickly enough, had the salt simply dripped away with the liquid?

done-curingEarly this morning, I removed the fish from its wrapper and rinsed off the salt and sugar mixture. What I had not been able to see was the salt was still there, it had changed appearance enough to blend in with the fish.

sliced-loxAfter rinsing off the coating, I felt much more comfortable with the results. I toasted a bagel and sliced the lox (or gravlox) into thin slices. At this point, I realized it way past time to sharpen my knives, but what do you do?

lox-on-a-bagelI spread the bagel with cream cheese and was pleasantly surprised to discover my experiment was a tasty success.

Here’s the quick rundown if you’l like to try it at home.

Choose a nice piece of salmon, remove any bones, rinse and pat dry. For 1 lb of salmon you’ll need approximately 2 TBSP ground pepper, 2 TBSP brown sugar and 4 TBSP kosher salt. Mix and press into the filet. Wrap with plastic wrap, set on a lid or inverted saucer to allow the liquid to run off. Weight with a plate or jar. Turn every twelve hours or so for five days. Rinse, slice thinly, and enjoy.

Tell me, Home Eccers, what did you do for Fearless Friday?



15 Comments

  1. Tiera on May 18, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    I was reading through the Fearless Friday post and comments and wondering what I could challenge myself with when I remembered that just about 2 weeks ago I cooked something I had never cooked before. I’m going to use that. I made braised beef short ribs and oh my!! They were easy and great. I think I’ll make them again tomorrow for dinner, they just about melted in your mouth. I was always thinking that there wasn’t much meat for all the work, but it worked out wonderful. Long slow cooking is the key. I browned the ribs in batches in olive oil and garlic in my cast iron dutch oven, Then added all the ribs back to the pan, added one can of beef consume and one whole quartered onion and put it in the oven with the lid on at 350 for 2 hours. i served it with oven roasted potatoes and steamed Brussels sprouts, my family was quite happy with it.

  2. Keter on May 16, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    @Stacy – if you want to make your own healthy salad dressings, do check out Penzeys.com – they sell premixed salad dressing spices. Search for “salad” to find the blends. All you add is the liquid (mayo, sour cream, yogurt, etc.). The salad blends double for quick spice hits for things like scrambled eggs, rice, or stirfy, too.

  3. Stacy on May 16, 2009 at 11:45 am

    I also love lox, and order it whenever we go to restaurant that serves it (in Southern California you sometimes find Jewish delis and restaurants that specialize in having great lox). However, it never even occurred to me to try to make it. I’m going to try it–thanks.

    Well, this isn’t just a “Friday” thing, but I have been trying for the past couple of months to try new recipes every week. However, yesterday, Friday, I did try making a new salad dressing. It’s not a life changer, but it was new, and it’s something I normally do not do because it rarely seems to taste as good as the bottled dressings.

    It involved cayenne pepper and sour cream, which was weird for me, but it turned out pretty good. I’m a spice wimp, so cayenne pepper alone kind of freaks me out, but it was okay. It’s only very slightly spicy, hardly anything you’d notice. Here’s the recipe:

    Mix these together in a small-ish bowl:
    1 tsp salt
    1/8 tsp cayenne
    1 tsp sugar

    Add:
    1 tbsp lemon
    2 tbsp vinegar (I used balsamic; I’d reduce it to 1 tbsp)
    Stir the above until smooth.

    Add:
    1 cup sour cream
    Mix it all together thoroughly and chill for a few minutes.

  4. Nicole Feliciano on May 15, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    I tried a Chinese food recipe for the first time. Here it is:

    http://momtrends.blogspot.com/2009/05/myrecipescom.html

    Easier than I would have expected!

  5. Keter on May 15, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    I am absolutely going to make lox. I love lox. But…but…I have a wheat allergy and can’t have bagels. Which means I’ll have to figure out how to make bagels – which I used to make from scratch every week – without wheat flour!

    I had never made ribs before, so I made them, and they came out great. Linked above, with my name oh-so-smoothly typoed into “Leter.” Oy vay. :o/

  6. Pam on May 15, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    I also enjoy a very thin slice of onion, a smear of
    horseradish, and a slice of tomato on mine

  7. JaxCC on May 15, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Well, I created a shell of a blog so I could link to it, but I haven’t had a chance to work on it, so for now I’ll post here. =)

    I live alone, and I don’t like to cook. It’s a big deal for me to eat regular meals. So in order to make it easy on myself, I eat almost 100% frozen foods. Last weekend I went out of town for 2 nights and stayed in a motel room with a microwave and fridge/freezer. I had planned on buying more frozen stuff (I figured that was still better than eating out), but I decided to be brave while I was at the store. Fearless Fridays and all that, right? So this may not be a big deal to anybody else, but I bought romaine hearts, baby carrots, sliced baby portabella mushrooms, grape tomatoes, a 4 oz bag of shredded cheddar cheese, and some Ken’s salad dressing. And I had the best salads while I was there. They were fab. Loved them so much that yesterday I bought produce again. Going to have a salad tonight for dinner.

    I feel totally lame that my big Fearless Friday adventure was “anything not frozen” … but luckily the interwebz won’t tell you my name or where I live so you can’t point and stare … or at least if you do, I won’t see you. 😉

    Thanks, Heather, for starting this series.

  8. Heather on May 15, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Fawn, one site I read had it as little as 18 hours, but the rest suggested turning it morning and night for 5 days. I went with the general consensus.

  9. Fawn on May 15, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Mmmm, haven’t had lox in years. When did you start this? In other words, how long did it take?

  10. Ceci on May 15, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Ok now I’m hungry. I LOVE lox (and hate cooked salmon by the way). Since there is no such thing as a good bagel once you are more than 30 miles outside Manhattan, when I have lox here i put it on sliced pumpernickel (not white, not wheat, PUMPERNICKEL) with butter, onion, and a few capers.

  11. ThatBobbieGirl on May 15, 2009 at 10:18 am

    While I really like salmon pretty much any way I’ve had it, I’ve never tried lox. I’m not squeamish, but raw fish lost any appeal it might have had after I found out my brother got parasites from eating sushi on his trips to Japan. Uh, yeah.

    No time to do a Fearless Friday post on my blog this week, so I’ll just tell ya here.

    I canned beans. Small red beans. In a pressure canner. Heather, remember that post you did just a little while ago about using bottled water for beans that won’t get soft? Well, if your beans are old, apparently even THAT won’t help.

    After the cooking in distilled water failed, I remembered talking to an acquaintance who had been a missionary somewhere with an EXTREMELY high altitude. She told me that the only way she’d been able to get beans to soften was in a pressure cooker. So I figured it was worth a shot.

    And, since I really hate using the pressure cooker, I just went ahead and home-canned a bunch. My pressure cooker is actually a canner, a large one, which can hold 7 quart jars, or (so it claims) 20 pints. I did one layer of pints, and for some reason could only get in 9 jars. I guess my jars are chubby.

    I used only 1/4 teaspoon of Redmond’s Real Salt per jar. Every single jar lid went “ping”. Go me. But I opened one to test the beans. Good results — they were soft, yet not mushy. I think I’ll go ahead and use a little more salt next time, but this batch is definitely usable when combined with other ingredients that might have salt already in it.

  12. Heather on May 15, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Angela, if you make it for the Norwegian side of the family, use some dill with the black pepper.

  13. Heather on May 15, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Wow….that is impressive and brave!

  14. Angela on May 15, 2009 at 9:17 am

    wow! that looks really good. I may have to get a slab of samon and have this the next time I’m in MN. I would be the only one to eat it here and I would need good bagels for it to go on:)

  15. ToyLady on May 15, 2009 at 8:39 am

    My husband LOVES lox – me, not so much.

    This looks like it would certainly be worth trying, though (for him, not me!).

    Thanks!

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