What Is Cured Salmon?

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  • Written By: Amanda R. Bell
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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Cured salmon is whole or sliced salmon that has been brined or smoked without being cooked. Although there are different varieties of this dish, including lox and gravlax, salmon can be prepared in many different ways such wet brining, dry brining, or cold smoking. Cured salmon is typically served for breakfast, as an appetizer, or as an ingredient in several different dishes.

One of the main types of cured salmon is lox, which is often served for breakfast with fresh bagels, cream cheese, and tomatoes. Lox is cured with a wet brine consisting of water, sugar, and salt and with other spices often added for additional flavor. Silver salmon is the most preferred variety for lox as it is less oily than other species. The meat from the belly of the fish is dry salted to remove moisture and then left in a brine for at least 12 hours to cure; the fish is then soaked in water for a few hours to remove the saltiness. The cured salmon is then sliced very thinly to create lox.


Gravlax is another popular variety of cured salmon. Although it is similar to lox, gravlax is created with a dry brining method. The salmon filet is packed with a mixture of salt, sugar, and fresh dill and then left to marinate for six hours at room temperature, provided the room is not excessively warm. After the salmon has absorbed the flavor, it is then weighed down and refrigerated for two to seven days, thereby allowing it ample time to cure. After the curing process, the fillet is thinly sliced and served or refrigerated for future use.

Cold smoking is a process of making cured salmon without cooking it. In some cases, the salmon is brined and then cold smoked for a short period of time for added flavor; when done properly, however, cold smoking can cure salmon. The fish is placed in a smoker that is kept at 99° Fahrenheit (37° Celsius). This temperature is enough to cure the fish without actually cooking it, thereby maintaining the delicate texture of smoked salmon. Once the salmon is cured, it is thinly sliced and served.

Cured salmon is served all over the world. Lox is a common addition to breakfast, often served with scrambled eggs, bagels, or on its own with fresh fruit. Gravlax is often served as an appetizer, usually with crusty breads and cheeses. Smoked cured salmon, either brined or not, can be added to numerous different dishes. It is a popular addition to salads or egg dishes and may be served on crackers with cream cheese and red onion.


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