Home cured lox on bagel with cream cheese from "Bagels, Schmears, and a Nice Piece of Fish." (Photo/Linda Xiao)
Home cured lox on bagel with cream cheese from "Bagels, Schmears, and a Nice Piece of Fish." (Photo/Linda Xiao)

With new cookbook, curing your own lox is easier than you think

What’s for brunch Thanksgiving weekend and throughout the winter holiday season? At our house, the menu will center on home-cured lox served with cream cheese spreads adapted from Cathy Barrow’s new cookbook, “Bagels, Schmears, and a Nice Piece of Fish.”

Subtitled “A Whole Brunch of Recipes to Make at Home,” the book is full of recipes and tips for homemade deli and appetizer goodies, including bagels, spreads, salads, sandwiches and pickles, and is presented in a well-designed, easy to follow format. One section called “Bagels My Grandmothers Wouldn’t Recognize” delves into gluten-free, asiago-cheese and olive bagels.

These recipes are adapted for style and space.

Home-Cured Lox

Serves 6

Adapted from “Bagels, Schmears, and a Nice Piece of Fish”

  • 1 lb. center-cut salmon fillet with skin on (see notes)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup kosher salt (see notes)

Cover a long sheet of aluminum foil with plastic wrap. Set salmon skin-side down on plastic. Remove pin bones with tweezers.

In a small bowl, combine sugar and salt. Press into salmon flesh. Snugly enclose the fillet with plastic wrap, then wrap again with the foil.

Place the packet flat in a glass or ceramic dish. Place another dish on top of the fish and add large, heavy cans of tomatoes or other canned goods to provide weight and heft. Refrigerate.

After 24 hours, dispose of any liquid. Flip packet over and reapply weight. Return to refrigerator.

Unwrap and check fish after 48 hours; it should be firm all the way through. Press with fingertips to check thickest part of fish to see if the texture has changed from tender to firm, raw to cured; there should be some resistance and the color will deepen. If it needs more time, rewrap, flip over, replace weight and chill. Check again in 12 hours, and again 12 hours later, if needed. The fish will never take more than 72 hours.

Unwrap fish and brush away the salt-sugar mixture. The fish should be firm and deeply pink. Pat with paper towel to remove any remaining cure. Serve, thinly sliced without skin, at room temperature or slightly cold.

Lox keeps 1 week in refrigerator. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in refrigerator.

(Have leftover lox? Make Barrow’s lox schmear. Combine schmear base (see below) with ½ cup chopped lox, 2 Tbs. chopped chives, ½ tsp. lemon zest, 1 tsp. lemon juice and ¼ tsp. ground black pepper.)

Notes: FDA recommends using commercially frozen or frozen and defrosted salmon when consuming uncooked salmon. If frozen, defrost before using. Kosher salt volume varies. Barrow uses Diamond Crystal. For Morton’s, use half. If using another kosher salt or substituting sea salt (do not substitute iodized salt), use 35 grams (about 1¼ oz.).

Scallion Cheese Schmear

Makes 10 oz.

Adapted from “Bagels, Schmears, and A Nice Piece of Fish”

  • Schmear base (see below)
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped scallions (green onions), white and light green parts
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt (see notes)
Scallion cream cheese schmear. (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Scallion cream cheese schmear. (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Bring schmear base to room temperature. In small bowl, cover scallions with cold water for 10 minutes. Drain. Dry with cloth towel.

In medium bowl, add schmear base, scallions and salt. Mix thoroughly with fork. Pack into ramekin(s), cover and chill for up to 2 days.

Schmear base: Combine 8 oz. full-fat cream cheese, 2 Tbs. sour cream and ½ tsp. lemon juice in medium bowl. Use electric mixer and beat until fluffy, lightened and spreadable. Or stir vigorously with a sturdy spoon. Cover and chill for up to 1 week.

Notes: Barrow uses Diamond Crystal kosher salt. If using Morton’s, use ⅛ tsp. If substituting other kosher or sea salt, use 0.7 grams (about 0.025 oz.).

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is faithkramer.com. Contact her at [email protected].