Smoked Salmon Spread

Written by Jared Vincenti
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A favorite spread for the top of a bagel, few people stop to think what "lox" actually is. The salty, tangy condiment is actually a smoked salmon spread, and an international favorite. Lox recipes vary from culture to culture, but always result in a cool spread with a variety of flavors.

Making Lox

The popular spread comes from several Northern cultures--mostly Scandinavian, Scottish, and Nova Scotia. No matter which recipe a smokery follows, the basic process is always the same. Fresh salmon fillets are treated with a brine--a mix of salt, brown sugar, and other spices--and then smoked for several hours at about room temperature. This process gives the meat a rich, smoky flavor without actually cooking it. Since the meat is uncooked, it maintains its soft consistency, which makes it an ideal spread.

Nova Scotia lox (sometimes shortened to Nova Lox) is probably the most common kind of smoked salmon spread. This Canadian recipe calls for a mild brine, so that the resulting dish has a milder flavor. Scandinavian lox (or Gravad Lox) is the opposite of this, in that it is very strongly flavored, and occasionally seasoned with some dill. Scottish lox has the brine prepared without water, and rubbed into the meat, resulting in a much tangier flavor.

All of these are variations on a theme, and are not exact recipes. Most commercial smokeries produce spreads that are similar to traditional lox styles, but vary them according to tastes (and what sells the best). Every batch of lox comes out a little bit different, but most smokers still closely guard their "secret" brine formulas.

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