How to Make Your Own Lox
For those who aren’t even sure what I’m talking about, lox (also know as gravlox) is basically a marinated raw salmon, sliced thinly. It is absolutely delicious, highly nutritious and the perfect Saturday morning breakfast, on a bagel slathered with cream cheese and lox on top!
I’ve always been a fan of raw fish and adore sushi (I’m sure that living in Japan for a year only served to feed my habit). So you can imagine my sadness at reading that even Nourishing Traditions, with it’s high approval of raw animal foods, says that sushi is a no-no due to possible parasites. I’m not ready to give up sushi altogether, but I did hope to find another way to satisfy some cravings and gain the nutritional benefits from raw fish.
In NT, Sally Fallon goes on to write that the way to deal with the issue of parasites in raw fish is to marinate it in an acid solution of lemon juice, lime juice or whey, which will kill any parasites or pathogens and also begin to predigest the fish, making it easier for us to digest and absorb its many nutrients (especially it’s good omega 3 fats, including DHA and EPA). For a much more detailed look at the health benefits and issues concerning raw animal products (including fish and dairy, despite what the title says), see this previous posts of mine on raw meat.
Marinated Salmon (Gravlox)
This recipe is taken from Nourishing Traditions. There are many versions of it out there, but I specifically like this one because it contains whey, to makes sure that the salmon begins to ferment (predigest). As always, I love to promote this cookbook because not only is it full of incredible, traditional, whole foods recipes, but it is an absolute gold mine of solid nutritional information as well!
2-3 lbs of fresh salmon filet (2 filets)
1/4 cup sea salt
1/4 cup Rapadura or Sucanat (unrefined, raw sugar)
2 Tbsp green peppercorns, crushed (I just use fresh cracked black pepper)
1/4 cup whey
2 large bunches fresh dill, snipped
I opted to make mine with only 1 filet, as it was my first time trying the recipe. I scored a lovely filet for 1/2 price and froze it until I was ready to go ahead and start my lox. The first step is to mix the sea salt, sugar and peppercorns, and then rub the mixture well into both sides of the fish. Do this with the fish laying on a good sized piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap.
Next, dribble the whey over both sides, as evenly as you can.
This dill is fresh from my garden, 5 minutes before I made this. It smelled heavenly! Lay a good sized piece on each side of the filet.
Even though the recipe calls for wrapping it in plastic and aluminum foil, I went with a natural, unbleached parchment paper, as that’s all that I keep in my home for food wrapping purposes. It did the job nicely, and then I tucked it neatly into a ziploc bag and sealed it, pressing out any air.
Here’s my version of pressing it between two cookie sheets with a heavy weight on top. Mine was too small to warrant taking up so much space in the fridge, so I used cake pans, and this heavy rock that we use to keep our patio door open in summer. 🙂 It worked just fine. Once you’ve done this, you can place it in the fridge and briefly forget about it. It should be flipped every 12 hours, or twice a day. I just made sure I flipped it once before bed, and again in the morning sometime.
After 2 days of marinating in my fridge, here it is! In hindsight, I wish I would have left it another day or two (the recipe says anywhere from 2-6 days), but I was impatient and really wanted to give it a try. The flavor was very nice after 2 days, but I think an extra day or two would have improved and deepened the flavor that much more.
I sliced it as thinly as I could, with a serrated steak knife.
Then I devoured it on a piece of my sourdough bread, with my homemade cream cheese (made by fermenting and draining raw milk curds). Can I just say yum?!?
I was telling my hubby about it on the phone and lamenting that I had no bagels to try it with and no time today to make any. He surprised me by coming home after his morning appointment with multigrain bagels, and so we indulged together at lunch. He also thought the lox was great (and he’s not as much of a raw fish lover as I am), as did the kids who nibbled on it at breakfast.
Have I convinced you to give it a try? This is easy stuff, and very worthwhile to serve to your family!
Awesome! I have wanted to make lox but have forgotten I wanted to make lox! Given the price of lox in the grocery, this is an awesome idea!
Hi! Did you know that by freezing fish you will be effectively destroying any parasite? The Spanish Government is enforcing a law according to which no sushi restaurant is able to serve fresh raw fish. By law it has to be frozen. However, as the avid sushi-eater that I am I can affirm that, as long as the fresh fish you froze was of a good quality in the first place, you’ll never notice too much difference in taste or texture. Marinating fish is another option to get rid of the parastes, as it is mentioned in your cookbook, but you don’t have to both freeze and marinate.
By the way, I love reading your blog! Oh, and congrats for having such beautiful children.
I can’t get myself past the texture of raw meat or fish! But I have to wonder if you raided my kitchen for that post. Looks like we use all the same brands. 🙂
looks really good. and it is so healthy for you.
Ooh, this looks wonderful! I’m not a big raw fish eater, but I’m willing to give anything a try. I think I might try this, bookmarking now!!
That sounds cool but I think I would throw up. And no, I’m not pregnant. LOL. I can’t handle the thought of raw fish.
I emailed you about the same sourdough bread you linked to in this post. I tried it and it didn’t work.
You know I have that Nourishing Traditions Cookbook. It was a gift from my SIL for my 40th. I have hardly had a chance to crack it, but now that I read your blog OFTEN, I do want to try all of that stuff–even raw fish!
Hello, Wow you have such an amazing collection of healthy recipes and information, thank you so much for sharing it! I just wanted to comment about the topic of raw fish. Have you ever heard of or tried a South American dish known as Ceviche? It is absolutely delicious and very simular to what you wrote about. It is very quick as it doesn’t have to be pressed and highly nutritious. Here is some information on it that includes some health risks of eating it (they always include this of course) from Wikipedia-
Thank you again for your blog and the time you put into it for people like me who are striving to eat healthy
Stephanie, Just found your site and love your recipes! I have just recently enjoyed lox, but not the price and can’t wait to try to make it! Thank you so much!!!!
Wanted to comment on on the parasite/raw fish issue from my own experience which will back up Sally Fallon’s warning. Before we moved, we had dairy goats and gave milk to people on a donation basis as I didn’t have a license to sell. Each year two ladies would come to me needing 8 to 9 qts at one time to go on a special diet to rid themselves of parasites from continuing to eat sushi. They took herbal supplements from a naturopath and only drank one to two qts of goat milk a day – no eating!
They, too, couldn’t give up the sushi, but loathed the goat milk/supplement routine as well. Just my 2 cents worth for food for thought. Tracy
Thank you! I love lox but it pains me to pay for it at the store. My husband fishes and we always have a huge supply of Sockeye in our freezer. This will be perfect! I had recently mentioned to him I wanted to try making it so I was so thrilled to come across your recipe!
Question — this may be obvious to some but the only whey I am familiar with using is that which is leftover from straining my yogourt or cheese. What kind of whey have you used for this recipe? Where would you suggest buying it?