New York Times food writer Mark Bittman has a blog: Bitten. It is particularly fantastic in that it features not only him, but posts from a few other writers as well. The mix of voices – all essentially in search of, well, how to cook everything - is singularly obsessed with cooking and eating fresh/local/sustainable food. They’re great at experimenting and exploring, but also at explaining it all so you can try things youself, at home.
Emily Weinstein’s series of posts on Bitten could be subtitled, “How I Learned to Cook Everything.” She’s using recipes from Bittman and others to learn how to cook. In public, in print.
In this installment – Working Miracles with Salmon - Weinstein wanted to tackle Belly Lox or Smoked Salmon in her Brooklyn apartment, but after talking to Niki Russ Federman and Joshua Russ Tupper, she revised her ambition and made gravlax (or, as we sometimes call it, “gravlox”) instead. She wrote:
“Lox isn’t really lox. Or rather, the salmon that we put on bagels and call “lox” is really just smoked salmon. True lox is salmon that’s cured, packed in more salt than you can imagine and left for weeks or even months on end. It’s still made, though few people eat it; it’s fleshier and firmer than smoked salmon, with a saltiness that will not stop.
So salty, in fact, that it precipitated the pairing of lox with bagels and cream cheese. ‘You had to use them to cut the taste,’ Niki Russ Federman told me. Niki and her cousin Joshua Russ Tupper run their family’s store Russ & Daughters in Manhattan — take a look at their blog, the brilliantly named Lox Populi — and I’d called them to ask whether I could make lox at home. …
The answer wasn’t no, but it wasn’t exactly yes either. Smoked salmon is, but only if you have a smoker, which I don’t. But Niki told me that the salt-cured stuff — which Russ and Daughters sells as ‘belly lox,’ mostly to the long devoted — would require me to cover several large sides of salmon in salt in a big container and leave it there for weeks. Then I’d have to soak the salt out, put the salmon in a high-salinity brine, and let it sit again for a while.
I pictured a plastic storage container filled with salmon sitting out in my apartment for months. My apartment consists of two rooms, and so I would come home every night to a choice: being in the room with the salmon, or the room without the salmon.
There is a third way, though. Gravlax, a Scandinavian version of lox…”
- Jen Snow