Wild Alaska Salmon Lox – an Edible Treasure

Miniature three-inch bagels are perfect for a snack-size taste of Alaskan salmon lox.

The winter holidays are a time of canapés and party food, which makes this post relevant to the holiday season. For us, agreeably salty lox on a fresh homemade bagel slathered with cream cheese is just plain good food anytime of year. With a river with strong salmon runs flowing right past our home, getting the main ingredient for these sandwiches isn’t a problem. In fact, we normally get plenty of fish for our own needs as well as a few additional fish to give to elders in our village. 

Making lox takes a bit of time, so there is some patience involved, but the method itself is easy. Simply pack salmon fillets in a salt-sugar-pepper mixture.  Let the salt draw out the excess liquid. Turn the fillets daily for about a week. It’s a fairly magical process, in the end transforming the fillets into firm, bright orange jewels. Sliced thin, lox is perfect in scrambled eggs or atop blini as well as on the traditional bagel du jour smeared with cream cheese and sprinkled with capers. Delectable, Wild Alaskan Salmon – an edible treasure.

Homemade Lox

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh salmon fillets, skin on. The fillets need not be scaled, but do take pains to ensure that all bones are removed.
  • ¼ cup coarse sea salt
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Rinse fish and dry thoroughly.
  2. Remove any pin bones in fillet with tweezers or needle nose pliers.
  3. Mix together salt, sugar and pepper. (This recipe works well when multiplied. Our last batch was 5 pounds of fillets.)
  4. Pack salt mixture around fish. Do this skin side down.
  5. Sandwich two pieces of fish together, flesh against flesh, skin side out.
  6. Pack any leftover sugar mixture onto exposed fillet.
  7. Wrap sandwiched pieces tightly with plastic wrap. Leave sides slightly open so liquid can drain while the salmon cures.
  8. I use a large plastic container with a top. Place a smaller food storage container inside the large one to create a raised place for the fish to set. This will allow the juice to drain away from the fish. A fish poacher with a bottom insert that allows drainage also works well.
  9. Place sandwiched salmon in container from step 8.
  10. Finally, you need to ensure that the fillets are tightly pressed together. This can be accomplished by placing full canning jars atop the fillets if you’re using a fish poacher. As I was using a tall plastic container, I simply placed another smaller container on top of the salmon pieces. The smaller container was just the right size so that when I put the lid on the larger container, it pressed down firmly on the fillets without squishing them. The idea is to create just enough weight or pressure to facilitate squeezing out excess moisture as the salt pulls liquid from the fish.
  11. Place container in refrigerator.
  12. For 7 days, every 24 hours pour off liquid from the bottom of the container and flip the fillet sandwiches.
  13. At the end of 7 days, take the salmon out of the plastic wrap and thoroughly rinse using very cold water.
  14. Thoroughly pat dry.
  15. Slice very thin and enjoy!

Store leftovers in refrigerator or wrap tightly in plastic and freeze in airtight containers.

6 thoughts on “Wild Alaska Salmon Lox – an Edible Treasure

  1. Those bagels and lox really look tempting. I never contemplated homemade lox, but when I read the phrase “homemade bagel.” I took another look at your photo, and they looked perfect. So I clicked on the recipe. I wondered why commercial bagels were invariably poor and recently read it is because they cook them in an oven with steam as a substitute for boiling them. Your recipe, of course, has it right.

  2. Love this story! I remember eating lox (or lax) for the first time in the US when I used to live there temporarily with my ex-partner some years ago. Although we have wild Australian salmon, as well as farmed European/American salmon in the southern states, they are always sold either as packaged fresh fillets or smoked slivers. I can, however, buy a packet & make lax & cream cheese on sourdough, for example, to satisfy my mouth watering over your recipe. Not quite as tasty as yours, but it’ll work .

    • I never thought I would be so fortunate as to live on a major salmon river. As you can probably imagine, being on the water casting flies to these fish makes my heart sing. The best fishing ends at the beginning of October, but all winter long every time we have a snack of our homemade ikura or lox or pull a fillet from the freezer to broil, bake or grill, we relive the memories of the past season on the water. By the way, I knew that New Zealand has runs of wild salmon… I didn’t know Australia did as well. I would imagine those fish go awfully fast at the fish market.

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