Homemade Lox (Salt-Cured Salmon)
Guys, I am in a funk. And it’s not like James Brown’s funk, or the Isley Brothers’ funk. It’s a very non-awesome, kind-of toxic, super-blarghy-ultra-screw-up-expialidocious…funk. I’m making uncharacteristically dumb mistakes at work, my sleep schedule is out the window, and all I can seem to do right is binge watching Grey’s Anatomy in bed covered in cats who, at times, seem dubious about my hygiene (understandably). And I completely blame the weather- no, really. We’ve been having major snow on and off in Portland since December, and Portland just plain doesn’t know how to deal with snow in amounts over 1-inch, so my workplace keeps shutting down. Between myriad snow closures and holiday off-times, I haven’t worked a full 40-hour week since just after Thanksgiving. I flourish when I am rooted in a predictable routine, and, clearly, I wilt when I am not.
That said, I am majorly blessed to have been paid for each day (granted, it was with my vacation time, which I did have earmarked for actual vacations), to have a home to keep me warm when there were literally people freezing to death in the streets, and humans and cats whom I love, and who love me unconditionally even when I am a gooey, pathetic lump of lethargy and sadness. Until I am fully re-rooted into my beautiful, predictably boring routine, I will be over here clinging to gratitude for dear life.
Hey! You know what I didn’t screw up at all recently, though? My very first attempt at homemade lox. I know you’re skeptical, but making lox at home is completely idiot-proof. It requires no culinary skill whatsoever, or special ingredients of any kind. Even I, in my state of miserable incompetency outlined above, nailed perfect homemade lox on the first try. Whiz-bang!
Lox is, without a doubt, the sparkling jewel of the brunch world. It’s luxurious and beautiful, with silky texture and salty, briny flavor that just won’t quit. Whether you serve it with bagels and schmear, nestled into eggs benedict, or swaddled lovingly in an omelette or crepe- it’s a winner, it’s impressive, and darn it! It lives up to the hype. These are all really great reasons why you pay out the bum for mediocre lox at the store or deli. But what Big Lox doesn’t want you to know is that you’re good enough and smart enough to make it yourself for a fraction of the cost. Here’s what’s involved: First, buy some salmon- something with fatty-er stripes will yield the best texture, but this isn’t crucial. Stir together some salt, brown sugar, and a dash of liquid smoke (optional), and slather it all over the fish. Wrap in plastic and put in your fridge to cure. Five-ish days later, unwrap the fish, give it a thorough rinse and dry, and then eat your heart out. Presto… homemade lox!
So easy, even a gooey, pathetic lump of lethargy and sadness can do it!
- Salmon, skin on
- 1/4 c. kosher salt
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 t. liquid smoke (optional)
- Gently press the surface of the salmon to check for pin bones- remove any you find. Pat salmon dry with paper towel, sprinkle with fresh black pepper.
- In a small bowl, stir together the salt, brown sugar, and liquid smoke (if using). Lay out a long sheet of plastic wrap and set the salmon in the center, skin-side down. Scoop salt mixture onto the salmon and evenly distribute. Wrap the salmon up in the plastic wrap, but don't fold the ends of the wrap over- leave them loose to let the juice escape during brining.
- Place the wrapped salmon in a baking sheet or dish and cover with a lid or more plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 5 days, turning the salmon over once per day.
- After 5 days, unwrap the salmon and rinse under cool water until all traces of brine have washed away. Pat dry with paper towel. Use your sharpest knife to thinly slice the salmon across the grain, at a 45-degree angle.