For many, lox on a bagel is a brunch staple. The smooth, salty salmon paired with the bite of red onion and capers and the smoothness of cream cheese is a delight. But if you’ve ever tried to recreate the dish at home with smoked salmon from your grocery store, you might have noticed things aren’t the exact same.
So is there a difference between lox and smoked salmon? As it turns out, yes, there is.
When you order lox and a bagel at a restaurant or deli, you’re getting cured salmon without any smoking. Typically, this is done in salt and sugar brine and takes a few months to complete. The result is a buttery and extra salty meat that pairs beautifully with your bagel and cream cheese.
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Smoked salmon is exactly what it sounds like. It’s cured using a smoking process. Typically, if you’re eating smoked salmon on a bagel, you’re getting cold-smoked salmon. It’s cured at temperatures up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and while it’s still got a smokier flavor than lox, it’s not quite as smoky as a hot smoked salmon.
Ultimately, lox and smoked are both salmon—obviously. The difference is in preparation and some subtle flavor changes. Lox will be saltier, and smoked salmon will have that bit of smoky edge, but both make for a smooth, buttery fish. Both are also delicious on bagels, as part of a benedict, or even worked into dips. But if you want that true salmon and a bagel taste, you should opt for lox.
The next time you’re hosting brunch and doing some grocery shopping, whether you grab some cold smoked salmon or lox, your dish will be delicious.