On a recent blustery evening, M. and I had bagel and lox at the Russ & Daughters cafe in the lower basement of the Jewish Museum on Fifth Avenue. We shared “The Classic,” an offering of Gaspé Nova Scotia smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato, onion and a sprinkling of capers.
Bagels and lox is a staple that’s as American as the burger, though lesser-known. Neither the bread, nor the fish originated in the U.S., but the two met in New York.
Lox comes to us by way of the Scandinavians. It was they who mastered the art of preserving salmon in brine. The bagel, a cousin of the pretzel—which is boiled before it’s baked—traces its roots to Polish Jewish bakers.
Smoked salmon is commonly called lox. But not all smoked salmon is lox. The salty, pickled, belly meat of cold-smoked salmon is what traditional Jewish lox is.