Lox are expensive. Salmon filets aren’t cheap, but a helluva lot cheaper than lox. Add some salt, sugar, pepper and smoke, which are pretty cheap, and you can save a minimum of $15/lb. Even better if you have a connection in Alaska who goes salmon fishing, hint, hint, Kate.
Start with a whole salmon filet. Obviously the better the salmon the better the lox, but you can still make a pretty tasty batch with a “lower quality” species.
Next, trim it into nice rectangular pieces and pat them dry. If you feel any bones remove them with needle-nose plyers. Nothing is wrong with the trim and you can use it for the lox if you like it’ll just make slicing down the road more difficult. I just take the trimming and vacuum seal them and use them as “medallions” for dinner. The fillets below started at 2.5lbs, each and finished just under 4lbs total, 1710g to be specific. As I stated before nothing was thrown away, it’ll get used for dinner one night.
In a large bowl combine:
- 200g of light brown sugar
- 140g kosher salt
- 5g fine black pepper
- 4g curing salt
Set up a baking pan with a roasting rack and lay out about 2 feet of cling film.
Then coat the mixture on to the patted dry fillets on all sides and set the first piece skin down on the cling film and the second piece skin up on top of the previous piece to make a salmon sandwich.
Wrap the cling film loosely around them, to allow the liquid to drain out, and flip it over so the seam is on the bottom.
Do that again for the second fillet (if you’re making two).
Place a weight on top to encourage liquid loss and cure penetration and place in the refrigerator.
After the first day, drain the pan and flip the pieces and rotate to make sure the weight is evened out. I got about 6oz of syrupy liquid after about 20 hours.
After a couple of days unwrap and rinse the cure off completely, pat dry and place back in the fridge for a few hours to dry and get ready to receive the smoke. At this point you have actually made lox. If you want to, just go ahead and remove the skin, slice and eat. If you want NOVAlox, however, its off to the cold smoker for a couple of hours.
I built a smoke house but there are ways to cold smoke a bit easier, just Google it. I just put the filets on a rack and smoke with a mild fruit wood for a couple of hours. Big woods like hickory, or heaven forbid mesquite will over power your delicate salmon.
After the smoke, rest it for a while back in the fridge to make slicing easier, remove the skin and thinly slice on a bias. You can vacuum seal your tasty treat and it’ll last a long time.
At the end of this batch the weight went from 1710g to about 1500g (3.8lbs >> 3.3lbs) then loss of about 50g/2oz when the skin was removed. So, 6 4-5oz pouches of really nice looking gift-suitable stuff and 4 flaky and trims great for scrambled eggs.