Did you know there is a difference between smoked salmon and lox? Before I moved to New York, I certainly didn't. Sure, they both come from the same fish, but lox is actually pickled in brine—it's not smoked at all. The resulting flavor is exceptionally salty, perfect for pairing with doughy bagels schmeared with cream cheese.
Often substituted for lox (or worse, falsely labeled as it), smoked salmon is far less briny and has a delicate, oily texture and silky taste. The salmon is traditionally cold smoked, which means the fish is kept far enough away from the flame to absorb only the smoke and not the heat.
These days, smoked salmon is much more popular than lox, which has been mostly relegated to the few remaining appetizing shops in New York. Steve Jenkins, author of this week's Cook the Book selection, The Food Life, writes: "Lox is like a forgotten aunt who used to be beloved and prominent but is now merely tolerated, when she shows up at the house at all."
In celebration of those old-fashioned, time-honored weekend brunches, attended by ancient family members everywhere, today's Cook the Book recipe is for Lox, Eggs, and Onions. Substitute smoked salmon if you must, but true lox will provide a sharper contrast between the delicate eggs and sweet onions.
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- Yield:2 servings
- 2 tablespoons corn oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 slices lox (about 4 ounces total), each slice cut crosswise into thirds
- 4 tablespoons chopped scallions (3 to 4 scallions)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
- Kosher salt
In a large, heavy skillet over high heat, warm the corn oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring once or twice, until the pieces begin to char and blacken at the ends (charring the onion gives this dish a lot of its flavor), 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the onion to a sieve set over a bowl to drain.
Break the eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk with a fork until just combined.
In a large, preferably nonstick pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the salmon, separating the pieces, and toss once to coat them with butter. Add the drained, charred onion and toss again. Pour the eggs into the pan and let sit for 10 seconds so they start to set. With a wooden spoon, slowly move the eggs around, gently combining them with the lox and onion. Do not scramble. Stir in the chopped scallions, then divide the eggs onto warmed plates. Garnish with chopped chives and season to taste with kosher salt.