Monday, July 03, 2006

Homemade Lox


The experiment was a success - I have officially made my own lox. I took a 1lb slab of salmon and with some salt, sugar, spices, and time, turned it into this:

That's, oh, about $20-$40 worth of lox were you buy it prepared... But I was able to make something that seems to be just as good as most commercial examples for under $8. The procedure was as follows:

Grind (in a coffee grinder or spice mill)

  • 2 tbs black peppercorns
  • 2 tbs coriander
  • 2 small, dried red peppers

Mix the spice mixture with

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup salt

Place the salmon fillet (1lb or so, and don't use a center-cut "steak" - the grain will be wrong for what we're trying to do) on a big ol' sheet of plastic wrap. Completely cover the salmon - on all sides - with the entirety of the salt/sugar/spice mixture. Wrap the whole thing up tightly in the plastic wrap, then give two or so more coats of plastic wrap. Then place inside two big zip-lock bags. Basically, you want this thing hermetically sealed, 'cause it's gonna get juicy as the salt draws the liquid out of the salmon... Then place the whole mess in a casserole-type dish to catch any escaping juices. Then put some sort of weight on the salmon - whether or not you actually need to do this, I don't know, but it is part of the hoo-doo of lox-making lore, and I did it and it seemed to work well... I used a tupperware container with a base about the size of the salmon fillet, and placed a big can of baked beans in the container. Then, place this whole mess in your fridge and wait. I took mine out and flipped the salmon every 12 hours or so - again, I don't know if that's really necessary, and I don't see why it should be, but it is part of the hoo-doo.

The range of time to "cure" the salmon varies between recepies - some say 3 days, some say a week. I went for a week, and while it's good, I think I'll go for around 4 days next time to keep things a little less salty. What I pulled out of the wrapping was much firmer than the un-cured salmon fillet. I then rinsed all the remaining brine mixture and spices off of the now-cured salmon with some cold water, patted the whole thing dry, and then I set about slicing it up. With a not-so sharp knife I was able to, surprisingly, slice near paper-thin slices from the firmed-up fillet. The resulting lox slices are translucent, bright orange, glistening, and otherwise feel and look every bit like all the lox I've ever bought commercially. Taste-wise, things are very similar - mine is a bit saltier, which I don't object to but will attempt to correct in the future, and the inclusion of coriander makes for a noticably different, but IMO entirely welcome, floral/hot spice element.

I think I shall never buy commercial lox again. Unless, of course, it comes with a bagel and cream cheese attached.

Now to contemplate if the sockeye salmon shall recieve any different spice treatment when it is loxized...


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