Lick the Lox

No this is not a repeat of the (in)famous Wildboyz skit where they run up to a Yak in Alaska and ‘lick the locks’…. (WARNING: clicking that link will not make you smarter (forward to 17:55) )

LOX – I have loved the lightly smoked salty treat for so long yet been slightly afraid to try the light cold smoke on my prized pile of hard won red fish.  What if I mess it up!?  Well this year I came home with a bit more salmon than normal (and a bit less Halibut)… so why not!

For many years I have hard smoked my salmon for a variety of uses. It keeps longer and is more like a traditional native smoke which is intended to preserve the fish by removing most of the moisture by salt, sugar, and smoke.  I usually wrap up whatever meat is not being used right away and drop it back into the freezer to use in dishes later. The hard smoke makes the salmon tougher.

It is hard to make the bellies tough…they are very forgiving and have extra fat. Salmon bacon anyone?!

Sometimes this dryness means that it has to be further processed some in order to eat it. This is a great snack dry but often better if broken up to cooked into a dish or chewed more.

As an appetizer this sometimes makes it a little more daunting for people with less experience in the dry/hard smoke to eat by itself. In my experience people typically do not like tough chewy snacks like dogs do.  I have even taken it to the next level in a dehydrator making dried smoked salmon chips which I put in baggies with a curry cube, dried vegetables, and rice for quick homemade backpacking curry.

But what of the light, soft, tender, and delicate nearly raw smoked salmon which is lox? Most will know that lox is European Jewish origin but the word is theorized to come from the German word ‘lachs’ meaning ‘salmon’. It did not make its way to the U.S. until sometime in the 1920’s.


Gaining in popularity in the late 50’s likely due to the widespread availability of refrigeration. So lox is a fairly recent addition to the American palate and lexicon.

Making lox is easier than you think.  Here is a recipe:

1 Cup of kosher salt

1 Cup of sugar

2 lbs of salmon ( Let’s just say a filet)

Fist full of dill if you like….


Mix all of the items above in a bowl with water. Cut the salmon into your preferred slices or sizes. For my first go at this I decided to slice across the fillet into hunks rather than try to deal with the normal thin slicing before or after. Place the salmon in the water for eight hours.

I really do not like recipes for the reason that they direct you into lots of unnecessary measurements. I made a brine by dumping some salt, some sugar, and some spice into a bowl of water (enough to cover the salmon) and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Easy, right?

The next morning pulled all the salmon out and patted it dry with a paper towel. Into the smoker they went! I have an electric smoker now (and truly miss my old 55 gallon drum style smoker) so set the temperature to 125 degrees F and let it gently do its thing while I went to the gym for an hour.

Result? Amazing and excellent. Soft tender lox that split at the myotomes. Perfect for an eggs benedict breakfast.


The remaining tender deliciousness went into a container in the fridge to be snacked on with crackers.

Lessons Learned:

  1. I think I would have smoked them at a little lower heat and for less time. This would make slicing into the more recognized thin slices for sandwiches easier. I opted to split these at the myotomes and layer it. Another option might be to slice it first when it is raw and holds together better. Maybe even freeze it and slice it while still firm. Honestly, don’t really care about slicing it since it was so delicious anyway.
  2. Clean the smoker better so you do not get charred bits on the beautiful lox.
  3. Make a bigger batch!

2 thoughts on “Lick the Lox

  1. I have an outstanding Salmon Rillette recipe that I make annually for our holiday party, which never fails to impress. It calls for both smoked salmon and fresh, mixed with herbs and a bit of Pernod… seriously, if you want to have yet another way to enjoy the magic of your smoked delight, let me know.

    Liked by 1 person

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