Saturday, June 29, 2013

Easy, Homemade Lox

I had mentioned on my facebook page that I had too many cucumbers, so someone suggested that I pickle them.  Somehow that discussion developed into other homemade tricks, foods you can make easily and another friend sent me this, her daughter's recipe, and I got her permission to post it:

easy homemade lox - in case anyone is interested. basically - you take frozen salmon and soak it in salt and it turns into lox. even though lox is called "smoked salmon" it is "cold smoked" after being brined. the smoking step is actually optional. so just soaking the salmon in salt for a few days in the refrigerator turns it into lox.

in fact - it's best (safest) to use frozen salmon for this purpose. you can buy a whole frozen salmon fillet when it's on sale; make all (or part) of it into lox; and then freeze the lox in smaller packages, to take out as needed. the reason it is ok to thaw the salmon and then refreeze as lox, is because the brining kills the bacteria. just as you could thaw frozen food and then refreeze after cooking. but you wouldn't thaw frozen food and refreeze without cooking or brining.

so here are the instructions as I received them:

It is called "gravlax" and you can look up instructions online. Here is an easy version.

Buy a whole fillet of salmon and let it thaw out. Don't buy anything with bones because they'll be impossible to remove later. Also it's possible to do with pre-cut fish, but they're small and therefore harder to manage.

Take a bowl or preferably rectangular plastic box and start cutting the fish to size. Stack the fish as you do - first slice with the skin down, cover it all with kosher salt, then the next slice skin up. You can spread some more salt on it before turning it over, but I'm not sure how much that's necessary. If you still have more fish, continue stacking. At the end I put the last slice skin down too, and spread some more salt just to be sure.

You can also put dill or sugar or pepper between the slices. I don't usually do so.

You can put a weight on it, but it's not necessary. The stacked fish itself is heavy enough.

Leave it in the fridge for three days. Technically you need to drain it every day, but I only bother after the first day when the most liquid comes out. It should also be technically ready to eat after the first day if you're rushing or if you like rawer fish. (I once tasted it like that and it was ok.)

After three days: wash the salt off, and cut the fish - use a sharp knife and slice as thinly as you can. If you find the right angle, it shouldn't be too difficult, but sometimes it takes a while and it is the part with the most work in this recipe. You can cut it all up and freeze most of it in sandwich bags. The fish is still very salty, so when thawed, it will still keep for a while.

To serve - wash it thoroughly in water. Then leave it to soak in water. The more you soak (and possibly change the water), the less salty it will be, and also the faster it will go bad. But even then it can last a few days in the fridge. If you want to serve it immediately, you can soak it for just a few minutes before eating. You can also leave it in the fridge still soaking, and finish it off in the next few days.

It doesn't have the smoked flavor of store-bought lox, but it's close enough.

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