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Homemade Lox

March 15, 2021
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When I was growing up, cured and smoked fish of various kinds made regular appearances on my grandparents’ table. Whitefish, sable, mackerel, and herring (often in jars of vinegar or sour cream) were mainstays of their lunch spreads, and I enjoyed them in all forms; I never had the common childhood aversion to fish, especially the oilier end of the spectrum. Looming large over this pantheon of what my brother and I jokingly referred to as “Jewish fish” was the king, salmon: The fattiest, most flavorful, and most expensive, it would always vanish fastest from the table.

Featured in: How To Make Homemade Lox


  • Fillet of salmon (roughly 2 pounds)
  • 1cup kosher salt
  • ½cup sugar (evaporated cane juice or light brown)
  • A small bunch of dill, washed and chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • Several generous twists of black pepper


  • Step 1

    Place a sheet of plastic wrap large enough to fully enclose the salmon in a rimmed baking dish.

  • Step 2

    Spread half the cure out on it and place the fish on it skin side down, pressing it into the cure. Spread the remaining cure on top and gently rub it to cover the entire fillet. (Make a mental note of how soft and yielding the flesh is.)

  • Step 3

    Wrap the salted fish in the plastic, leaving it in the dish, and weigh it down with a cutting board or cookie sheet with a couple of cans on top and place it in the fridge.

  • Step 4

    After 24 hours, flip it over and return it to the fridge under the weight. You will see how much liquid the salt has pulled out of the fish.

  • Step 5

    Depending on the thickness of the fillet, after 48-72 hours or so the entire piece should feel firm; that raw softness will have given way to a much denser texture. When it’s firm all the way through at the thickest part, it’s fully cured.

  • Step 6

    Thoroughly rinse the cure off, pat the fish dry with a paper towel, and slice it as thinly as possible (sharpen your knives!) at about a 30-degree angle.

  • Step 7

    Save any trimmings to mix into cream cheese with chives for a stellar schmear.

  • Note: Many recipes call for a 1-to-1 ratio of salt to sugar. This is too sweet for my taste; I use half as much sugar as salt. Feel free to adjust according to your taste, and by all means add hot chili or other flavors and spices as desired. If you have the gear required to cold-smoke it, go for it! If not, maybe try a little smoked salt or smoked paprika in the cure. It’s a very flexible recipe.

    Once cured, lox freezes well, so you can cure a whole side of fish and then portion it, wrapping each piece tightly in plastic and freezing for later use.