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how to make LOX

Chef ArnoldiChef Arnoldi Posts: 974
edited 6:38PM in EggHead Forum

There are six main steps in making lox:

1. Filleting the salmon, cutting into serving size pieces and scoring the skin
2. Dry salting (12 hours)
3. Brining (12 hours)
4. Freshening (1-2 hours) Critical step!!!
5. "Painting" with a rum and brown sugar mix (4-6 hours)
6. Smoking (1 hour or less)

• Fillet the salmon, but leave the skin side intact. Cut into serving size pieces.

• Score the skin side with a razor blade in parallel cuts (to allow the salt-sugar mix to be absorbed). Don't cut the flesh — only the skin!

• Prepare a dry mix in the proportion of 3 parts coarse salt to 4 parts brown sugar. Avoid iodized salt.

• Sprinkle a layer of the salt-sugar mix on the bottom of a glass/plastic/stainless steel/porcelain tray or bin (never aluminum).

• Make a layer of the filleted pieces, cover with the salt-sugar mix, put another layer on, and so forth, until the bin/tray is filled. Put more mix on the thicker pieces, less on the thinner pieces. Sorry... can't quantify any better than this. It's just a matter of learning.... I call it "differential salting."

• Let the bin sit for 12 hours. Lots of syrupy liquid will appear (as the salt and sugar draw water from the fish). As the salt and sugar pretty much stop any decomposition, the bin need not be refrigerated, but try to keep it in a cool, shady place.

• Prepare a brine solution by mixing about 2.5 lbs. of coarse salt to a gallon of water. A clean 5-gallon plastic bucket is ideal. The brine is a saturated solution.... in other words, it has so much salt in it that any excess simply won't dissolve. It helps to use hot water to dissolve the salt, but make sure it is cool when the fish is added.

• Remove the pieces and with cold running water briskly rinse off any salt-sugar mix that remains.

•Add the pieces to the brine solution and let sit for 12 hours. Does not need refrigeration. Brining draws water from the fish as it salts the fist. This is what "cures" the lox, as it is not a cooked product.

•Empty the brine from the bucket and place a garden hose at the bottom of the bucket. Slowly run cold water through the hose, causing the bucket to overflow (obviously, this is an outdoor step). This will begin to desalt, or "freshen" the fish. Freshening is the most critical step of the process! After an hour, remove one of the thinner pieces, dry it off, test it for "sliceability" and taste it to make sure sufficient salt has been removed. This is strictly a matter of judgment! Thicker pieces may take two or three hours to freshen. If you over-freshen, the fish will become pale and waterlogged and those pieces will be ruined.

• As you remove the pieces, place them skin side down, on a large towel on a table.

• Prepare a syrup of brown sugar and dark rum...... say, two pounds of sugar to a fifth of rum..... pretty thick.... you may have to heat it to dissolve the sugar. Use a full-bodied, dark rum such as Myers or Coruba.

• Brush the syrup onto each piece. Set a fan at the end of the table where the fish is laid out. As the syrup is absorbed, brush on a new layer. Do this for 5-6 hours until a pellicle (or "skin") of syrup forms on the surface of the fish.

• Then, put the pieces in a smoker, and lightly smoke for about 30-60 minutes.... with hickory, alder, cherry, apple.... anything but mesquite. Do not let the temperature of the product rise above 90°, or those pieces will be ruined!

• Remove the pieces from the smoker, pack and freeze.

• OPTIONAL STEP: Before packing, you may wish to remove the pin bones from each piece with a needle-nose pliers. The bones are easy to spot, because the flesh around them will have shrunk down. They pull out easily. Their removal makes slicing the lox a bit easier, although the pin bones are very fine and will slice through if you leave them in. For "presentation lox" I always remove the pin bones, but for our family's own consumption, I leave them in because their removal is time-consuming.

• NOTE: Unlike frozen fresh fish, which, even when vacuum-packed, goes "off" in six months at the most, frozen, vacuum-packed lox will endure for up to three years in a freezer that holds temperatures at or below 0° F.

note:how to cold smoke:
i use the BGE at say 200°F with soaked Alder woodchips and connect an aluminum Dryer vent hose connected to the chimney & fed into an Oven tray where the salmon is placed - covering the tray with aluminum foil & a small hole pocked on the opposite end of the incoming hose.

see photo:<;84;23232fp63=ot>2327=8:3=677=XROQDF>23235;547<35:ot1lsi lox.jpg

the way i do it:
coat the salmon in sugar/salt mix wrap in ceran wrap
place in a tray with another tray on top weighed down with a few cans and placed in the fridge for 4 days (turned every day).
then i wash the salmon for at least one hour.
pat dry & brush with brown sugar/bourbon mix.
put back uncovered in fridge til it feels tacky.
cold smoke for 1 hour. slice at an angle & Refrigerate. wrap small packages of the sliced lox & freeze for future use if needed.(unthaw a package overnight in the refrigerator)<br><br>Post edited by: chefarnoldi, at: 2005/06/28 06:52
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