Calling this dish “fried lox” may conjure up visions of smoked salmon slices going into a deep-fryer. But I doubt my great-grandmother ever saw one of those. These lox get pan-fried in butter; a lot of butter. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if she used schmaltz. I’m not prepared to get quite that authentic. And butter does nicely.
But the salmon goes through other steps before hitting the pan with the butter.
First, the lox gets submerged in a bowl of milk for at least 20 minutes. This renders the slices less salty. It also prepares them for another step before they go into the frying pan. I bought a quarter-pound of regular lox for tonight’s preparation, although I’ve used Nova Scotia before. My great-grandmother used regular, but Nova works fine.
While the milk bath is taking place, sauté chopped onion in a good amount of butter. Let them go over medium heat until the onions begin to brown. At that point, lower the heat a little and begin to add the lox by taking each slice out of the milk, one at a time, and giving them a good dredge in flour before laying each slice in the pan as flat as possible. It’s okay if slices sit on top of the onions in the pan, but try to avoid having them bunched up rather than fairly flat.
Allow the slices to sizzle in the butter – adding more of it as needed – for at least a few minutes before turning them over to repeat the process on the other side. It’s okay to press down on slices with your spatula to expose them to more heat. I’ve been the only one in my family to make this dish on occasion for many years, and I was exposed to constructive criticism over the ways in which my fried lox differed from great-grandmother’s. She used to make big Sunday brunches for the extended family. My mother, her brother, cousins and aunts all ate this dish on a regular basis years before I was born. And it’s been pounded into my head that it’s important that everything be well-done. The onions need to brown and the lox slices need to be getting to that point before you flip them and let the other side get well done.
When all of the slices have reached the desired point, add the beaten eggs and start mixing everything together and chopping the lox into smaller pieces. I also heard several times from relatives that I used too many eggs, leaving the ratio of salmon-to-eggs off from where it should be. But I cut back this time, only using three eggs for a quarter-pound of lox. I think I probably would have been okay with a fourth, but I used to use six or seven. I have apparently been scolded enough about that to finally learn my lesson.
Again, let the eggs and lox go until nice and brown. I press it all down with my spatula, let it go a while, then flip it over and repeat. When it’s all well-done, it’s finished.
My great-grandmother apparently served a huge spread at those Sunday brunches. I limited myself to a toasted egg bagel with cream cheese on the side. It was a perfect breakfast-for-dinner.
Makes 4 servings
- ¼ pound lox (regular or Nova Scotia)
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- ½ cup chopped yellow or sweet onion
- A lot of butter (have a stick at the ready)
- 1 cup flour
- 3 or 4 large eggs, beaten
- Pepper to taste
- Salt to taste only if using Nova Scotia-style smoked salmon