Lox – The real Deal

Courtesy of Karla Dudley


Lox vs. Smoked Salmon: While lox is delicious, the term is quite confusing. What we currently call lox, derived from the German word for salmon, “lachs” is in fact smoked salmon – which is a very different product. But authentic lox is brined in a salty solution, which cures the fish and leaves a strong, salty taste. Today, what is called lox is cured with a light salting and then cold-smoked, which provides the typical smoked salmon flavour.

The word lox is now used interchangeably with smoked salmon, an error in nomenclature. The key to ‘real’ lox is to purchase sustainable, wild-caught salmon. It may seem a tad expensive, but you can save money by curing it yourself. The easiest way to make homemade lox is to make the Scandinavian version, gravlax, which is cured salmon in a salt-sugar solution, skipping the smoking step. Follow this recipe and in just a few days you can enjoy delicious lox that you made yourself. Start the fish Thursday and by lunch on Saturday you will have a delicious topping for your bagel — or better yet, wait one more day for the perfect Sunday brunch. There is a lot to love about lox!


1 cup kosher salt

1 1/2 – 2 lbs salmon filet, boneless, with the skin on

1 cup sugar

1/2 bunch dill, stemmed and washed


Rinse salmon filet and make sure all pin bones are removed.

Cut the salmon in half.

Mix the salt and sugar in a bowl.

In a shallow dish, pile half of the mixture onto each half of the salmon. It will seem like there is extra mixture, but just pile it on.

Next, place the dill on top. Sandwich the two pieces of fish together and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.

Put the fish into a gallon-sized zipper bag and push out all of the air, then place in a shallow dish.

Refrigerate, with weight on top, which is crucial. Use another heavy dish, bottles of soda, or a foil-covered brick, anything that will weigh down the fish.

The lox will take 2-3 days to cure. At the end of each day, drain any liquid that has been extracted from the salmon and flip the salmon over.

You can begin tasting it after 2 days. When it is cured to taste, remove from plastic and rinse well.

To eat, slice thinly and on a bias, leaving the skin behind. Enjoy with your favourite cream cheese and bagel, capers, red onion or crème fresh, or try with your eggs benny.

You can also save for use later, as cured lox freezes very well.

Pairs well with a Pilsner like this year’s CBA gold winner –  Big Rock Brewery‘s Pilsner. The freshness and slight bitterness of a pilsner is great with the slightly salty salmon.

Plus you can change up the flavours each time with this recipe. Try Mexican with chilli powder and limes; Greek with lemon and oregano; Canadian with maple sugar… the possibilities are endless!