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Chefs at Home: Ora King Salmon Lox with Bagels, Zhoug Labne, and Pickled Onions

  • Chef Tony Messina
  • 2 min read

By Chef Tony Messina of Uni in Boston 

Curing your own lox at home takes some time, but the process is easier and less labor-intensive than you might think. The marbling of Ora King Salmon makes for an especially luxurious taste and texture. Start the lox three days before you plan to serve it.

Makes 1 pound lox - enough for 4 to 6 bagels


For the lox: 

½ cup kosher salt 

½ cup demerara sugar 

1 tablespoon La Boite Shabazi spice 

1 pound Ora King Salmon, skin on


For the pickled red onions 

2 red onions, sliced thinly 

½ cup + 1 tablespoon kosher salt 

1 1/2 cups water 

1 cup white or rice vinegar 

½ cup granulated white sugar 


For the zhoug labne: 

Leaves from 1 bunch parsley

Leaves and small stems from 1 bunch cilantro

4 jalapeno peppers, stems removed 

2 garlic cloves, inner germ removed and chopped 

1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin seeds

3-4 tablespoons lemon juice 

1/2-3/4 cup grapeseed or avocado oil 


To assemble:


Sliced Tomatoes



For the lox:

Mix the salt, sugar, and Shabazi spice together in a bowl and set aside.  

Lay out two pieces of plastic wrap, roughly 18” each, and overlap to form a cross.  

Sprinkle a third of the salt mixture onto the middle of the plastic wrap. Prick a series of small holes into the skin of the salmon with a cake tester and then place the salmon, skin side down onto the salt. Sprinkle the remainder of the salt mixture on top of the salmon and wrap tightly.  

Place wrapped salmon onto a perforated pan with a drip pan under to catch the liquid that will exude (a baking dish will work fine if you don’t have a perforated pan). Weigh the salmon down with something heavy (a couple of tomato cans work well here).

Place in refrigerator and turn every 24 hours for 3 days. After three days, carefully wipe away the remaining salt mixture. Slice very thinly. 

For the pickled red onions:

Mix the sliced onions with ½ cup salt and let stand for 1 hour. This will release some of the liquid in the onion, removing the bitter quality.

After 1 hour, rinse with cold water.

Meanwhile, bring the water, vinegar, sugar, and the remainder of the salt to a boil. Let it cool slightly. Pour over onions and let them stand until they reach room temperature.

They will last in the refrigerator for a month.  

 For the zhoug labne:

1 pint labne (to make your own, just add 1 tablespoon salt to 1 quart of Greek yogurt and let it hang in cheesecloth over your sink for 8-12 hours) 

Place herbs, jalapenos, spices, and lemon juice into a blender and puree. When the mixture is a thick puree, slowly add in the oil.

Add salt, taste and adjust seasoning. Fold into labne. 

To assemble:

Smear the zhoug labne onto a toasted bagel. Add sliced tomato, lox, pickled onions, and capers.