If you’ve spent any amount of time in New York City, you’re probably familiar with nova lox, which is salt-cured, cold-smoked slices of salmon that are usually served on top of a toasted bagel with cream cheese. If you want to keep some lox on hand, though, you may be wondering if it is safe to freeze lox and if it will keep its flavor.
You can freeze nova lox, and it will keep its flavor in a freezer for up to six months if it is appropriately stored in an airtight container or a freezer bag.
The rest of this article details the process of freezing lox, how to defrost it, the difference between nova lox and regular smoked salmon, and ideas for how to prepare your lox. If you’re looking to add more lox into your diet, keep reading!
Is It Okay To Freeze Lox?
It is okay to freeze lox by putting it in an airtight container or freezer bag and putting it in your freezer. As long as the lox is fresh before freezing, it will last about 6 months. Lox can also stay good for two weeks in your fridge.
For an airtight freezer container, I like using the Sistema KLIP IT Rectangular Collection Food Storage Container from Amazon.com because it is long enough to store my lox flat. The extra-large size allows me to store lots of lox in it.
Additionally, the easy-locking clips and seal keeps food fresher for longer. It is also dishwasher safe and microwave safe.
If you prefer using freezer bags, I recommend these Dishwasher Safe Reusable Storage Bags from Amazon.com. These bags have upgraded double closures that ensure an airtight seal, which is ideal for preserving food. They also lock out freezer burn incredibly well.
Most importantly, though, they are more environmentally friendly because they are reusable. You can hand wash the bags in cold or room temperature water, then air dry them to use again.
For the best freezing results, follow this method:
- Cut your lox into thin slices, so it is easier to thaw later.
- Place the lox skin side down on a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Put into your freezer until the lox is solid.
- Once the lox is frozen, transfer the fish into an airtight plastic container.
- Label the container and put it in your freezer.
Another method you could try is vacuum sealing (Amazon) the lox. This will make it the best quality it can be and give it a longer life in the freezer.
If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, this video shows you how to seal foods without one:
As long as you use the proper materials and store the lox properly, it is completely safe to freeze lox.
How To Thaw Lox
After you’ve frozen your lox, once you’re ready to eat it, you’ll have to thaw it out. If you plan ahead or you have time, the best option is to thaw it in the refrigerator for four to five hours.
If you’re in a hurry, you can cook lox from frozen. Cook it at 450°F (232.22°C) for about 10 to 12 minutes, and the lox will be ready to eat.
Remember that once lox has thawed completely, it is not a good idea to refreeze it.
How Is Nova Lox Different From Regular Salmon?
Lox is salmon that has been cured in salt, and if the lox is cold-smoked, it is then nova lox. The name “Nova” comes from the origin of the salmon, which is Nova Scotia, Canada.
There are two important cooking processes to know about when discussing the preparation of salmon: curing and smoking.
Curing is the process in which a portion of food is preserved in salt, while smoking is the process in which food is exposed to smoke. Salmon is “cold-smoked” if it is exposed to smoke below 85℉ (29.4℃), and it is “hot-smoked” if it is exposed to smoke above that temperature.
Cold-smoked salmon, or nova, can be sliced extremely thin, and hot-smoked salmon has a meatier and flakier texture.
Lox is the modern-day version of the preserved salmon people ate before the popularity of refrigeration. True lox is incredibly salty, so salty that people ate it with dairy and bread to cut the taste. This is why lox is so commonly served with bagels today.
Authentic lox is made only from the belly of the salmon, which is the richest and fattest part of the fish. It is a traditional Jewish dish but it is becoming more trendy as a brunch option.
How To Use Your Lox
Of course, lox is delicious on a bagel with some cream cheese and coffee, but there are other ways to enjoy this delicious salmon.
Here are some ideas:
- You can make a creamy lox dip. You can serve salmon dip or spread with fresh veggies, crackers, or cocktails. My personal favorite is cucumbers with lox spread.
- Use lox in a kale and lox frittata. You can serve frittata cold for breakfast or combine it with a salad for a nutritious lunch.
- Love crab cakes? Wait until you try lox cakes. Combining fresh salmon and lox into a crunchy salmon cake completely changes the flavor profile.
- Add lox to your favorite creamy fettuccine recipe. This is a great and simple dinner option because the salty and smoky flavor profile of lox pairs perfectly with creamy white sauces.
- Add it to a salad with goat cheese. Just like lox pairs well with creamy white sauce, it also works well with creamy goat cheese.
- Make some Eggs Royale. Eggs Royale is a variation of Eggs Benedict that swaps out ham with lox instead. Pour some Hollandaise sauce over a toasted English muffin topped with poached eggs and lox, and you have a divine, restaurant-worthy breakfast.
- Serve lox on top of hashbrowns with dill cream for breakfast. I love hash browns, and hash browns with lox are even better. All that saltiness will need to be cut with dill cream, though.
- Upgrade your deviled eggs. Add lox to your deviled egg filling recipe to take them to the next level.
- Or upgrade your egg salad. If you think lox is delicious in deviled eggs, wait until you add some to your favorite egg salad recipe. Serve it on a croissant for maximum tastiness.
- Make a lox pizza. A toasted bagel is basically just a smaller and thicker pizza crust, right? Grab a pizza crust and add lox, cream cheese, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and hot sauce on top for a unique and yummy pizza.
Whether you want to use your lox for an appetizer, breakfast, lunch, or dinner, there’s a way to prepare it. You can’t go wrong with a classic lox bagel, though.
How To Make Your Own Lox
Lox can be pretty expensive, but you can actually make your own at home for a lower cost. You can get sustainable and wild-caught salmon from specialty stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.
The easiest way to make lox is to cure the salmon in a salt-sugar solution. This skips the cold-smoking step, so it won’t be nova lox anymore.
To make lox, you’ll need 1 cup (128 grams) of kosher salt, approximately 2 lbs (0.91 kg) of salmon filet with the skin, 1 cup (128 grams) of sugar, and half a bunch of stemmed and washed dill. I like using the Manischewitz Natural Kosher Salt from Amazon.com because it is coarse and works well for curing. I also like that there are no additives or fillers.
Follow this process to make your own lox:
- Rinse your salmon and remove all pin bones.
- Cut the salmon into two equal-sized pieces.
- Mix 1 cup (128 grams) of sugar and 1 cup (128 grams) of kosher salt in a bowl.
- Pile half the mixture onto each half of the salmon. The salmon will absorb it during the curing process, so if it seems like there’s too much, there isn’t.
- Put the dill on top.
- Press the two pieces of salmon together and wrap them in plastic wrap.
- Put the salmon into a Ziploc bag and refrigerate with weights on top to weigh down the salmon.
- Wait two to three days for the salmon to cure, flipping it at the end of each day.
- After two to three days, you can unwrap the salmon, rinse it, and slice it. You can freeze it using the process above.
There you have it. Now you can make lox and then freeze it for later.
The next time that you have lox on your hands that you don’t want to waste and don’t want to eat right away, don’t hesitate to throw it in the freezer. It is completely safe to do so as long as you use the proper materials, and it will retain its smoky and salty flavor.
Then you can make lox bagels for months to come!