Ever since the Scandinavians knew how to brine fish, Lox has been a quintessential breakfast protein for all. With a buttery, flaky consistency, this lightly salted salmon dish pairs perfectly with bagels and cream cheese. Filled with Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, B vitamins, and various minerals, lox proves to be a healthy treat when not when paired with heaps of glorious cream cheese. What is lox, exactly? Here's the breakdown on this classic bagel topping. 

What is Lox?

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Olivia Vantuno

Lox is a brined salmon that can be purchased at any bagel shop or deli. The cut is made of the fatty belly of the salmon and is prepared by being salt-cured for three months. Originating in Scandinavia, lox was mastered by their cooks, who excel in preserving salmon with a salt-water brine. However, the name lox comes from the Yiddish word for salmon, "laks." Its smooth, silky texture is something that many Americans—and many people around the world—enjoy, and find themselves returning to their local deli counters for on a weekly basis.  

More commonly, mass produced lox is made by cold-smoking salmon after a light salting, allowing for lower prices, an identical taste, and a greater availability. This process of cold-smoking cooks proteins at or around 90-120ºF while the smoke is being pumped through the vessel, purely so the fish maintains a smokey flavor without being cooked more.  

To DIY this long process, you could make the Scandinavian style of Gravlax, or cured salmon in a sugar and salt combination. While this does take a bit more time than a simple trip to your local food store, it essentially adds a bit more of an herb flavoring, as opposed to the common salty preparation of the fish. 

Lox vs Nova Lox

bagel, meat, cheese, bread, lox, vegetable
Sofía Vainesman

Lox is easily confused with Nova Lox, due to their almost identical looks and flavoring to the traditional lox. Nova lox is a salmon that's smoked before packaging or serving. Nova Lox is prepared by brining the fish before an eight-hour smoke at around 145ºF. This process, called kippering, allows the fish to maintain a smoked taste and a flakier texture while still being buttery and smooth.

One of the most important differences between the two is the price tag. At Wegmans supermarkets, you can purchase a 3-oz bag of Acme Sliced Lox for $6.99, while a 4-oz bag of Wegmans' Nova Salmon costs $8.99. Although this is only a nine cent difference per ounce, at higher quality delis the difference could rise to be over a $2.00.

How to Enjoy Lox

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Ally Golden

You may be asking, "How do I eat this strange salmon?" Personally, I believe in eating lox on top of a plain bagel with a beautiful schmear of Temp-Tee Cream Cheese, along with some capers and shallots. If you're looking to be more aesthetic, a giant piece of brioche with a bit of cream cheese and capers will do your social pages plenty of justice.

#SpoonTip: Use lox instead of the Nova Lox for a saltier taste.

However, if the brunch usual is not what you're looking for, a horseradish cream would pair nicely with lox. Equally as good and a few notches down on the difficulty scale, salmon rillettes is the best dip (which can very easily be turned into a full meal) for anyone with a bit of leftover lox.  

No matter what you do with this thinly sliced, salt-kissed salmon, it will never taste bad. So—sometime soon—be sure to visit your local deli counter or supermarket to get in on this amazing delicacy.