Cold Smoked Salmon

Written by Jared Vincenti
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As one of the most widespread and abundant fish in the Northern Hemisphere, it is no surprise that salmon are a favorite source of food for bears, eagles, and humans. Found from California and Alaska to Korea and Siberia, from Connecticut to Labrador, these fish swim upstream from the ocean every year to spawn. Easily hunted when packed into freshwater streams, indigenous Americans incorporated salmon into their diets as a fundamental element. Thanks to the wide distribution of salmon, many ways of preparing it were invented by various cultures.

What is Cold Smoking?

Frequently ordered as a spread on toast and bagels, lox is actually cold smoked salmon. However, the salmon is not smoked at a high enough temperature to cook it, so it keeps a smooth consistency. The fish is frozen after smoking to kill parasites, so there is little risk of food poisoning from lox.

Cold smoked salmon is prepared much the same way as hot smoked salmon. The fish is cut into fillets, and these fillets are soaked in a brine solution made of salts, brown sugar, and spices. The brined fish is then put on a smoking rack, where the wood chosen for smoking adds even more dimension to the flavor. Unlike hot smoked salmon, though, cold smoking keeps the temperature around 70°F, which is not hot enough to truly cook the meat.

Because it is never heated, lox keeps extremely well and is easily shipped. Also, there are more kinds of lox than you'd expect. The type of brine and process of smoking can vary considerably, and the resulting flavor can be quite varied. Scottish lox, Scandinavian lox, and Nova Scotia lox all have their own processes and recipes, and yield remarkably different products.