Something like necessity inspired us to try our hand at making lox, although “necessity” might be a bit strong. On the other hand, there is no kosher deli in Point Hope… so where to obtain a freshly baked bagel topped with cream cheese and deliciously salty cold-cured salmon? Growing up, it was always a treat on those rare occasions we could afford it. Someone had to know how to make it at home, right? To the internet!
After perusing foodie blogs, recipe pages and YouTube videos, we were ready to give it a try. Jack put together a blend of natural coarse sea salt, smoked sea salt, brown sugar and cracked pepper which we then packed onto the fillets before pressing them together and placing them in the refrigerator. At the allotted five days of curing time, we were thrilled at how our first lox came out. Cut thin, the beautifully translucent slices of wild salmon were appropriately dense, salty and imbued with the freshness of the Alaskan sea. Although Internet recipes cautioned against using frozen fish, ours came out nicely, probably because our fish had been kept on ice before being filleted and then vacuum packed and flash-frozen shortly thereafter. In that regard, our frozen fish is fresher than most “fresh” fish.
We made cream-cheese-and-lox-roll-ups for a party (they vanished in no time), scrambled some into eggs, and have been enjoying it on crackers and cream cheese. As satisfying as each of these dishes have been, we both craved bagels for our new delicacy.
I accepted the mission and searched out different recipes and techniques. I started the dough in the bread machine–a wonderful tool for making sure the temperature is right–and after shaping the dough into bagels I finished them on the stove and in the oven. The first batch turned out eight beautiful bagels–golden brown on the outside, agreeably chewy, and the perfect texture on the inside.
The thing we like most about living off the beaten path is the time we have (and take) to do things we would have been unlikely to do in our previous lifestyle. There’s a sense of accomplishment that has become a regular part of our lives… lox and bagels…from scratch! When it comes time to move back to a road system–whether we end up on the Kenai Peninsula, Oregon, Washington, California, Belize or some place we haven’t fully considered yet–, I can’t imagine that we will go back to buying the things we’ve learned to make. We agree we don’t ever again want to be so busy that we don’t have time to make things ourselves.
P.S. In an ironic turn of events, our little Native Store in Point Hope recently got lox! I didn’t even bother to look at the price. I did see people go in with gold bars and polar bear furs to trade. Ha ha.