I was going out for breakfast with Erin about a week ago, and we were unsure as to where to eat. After a Best bagels stop at our local Hassidic bakery for some poppy seed rolls, we decided to get bagels.
We are, after all, ideally situated, living a block away from either Fairmount or St-Viateur Bagels.
I’ve looked around and asked around as to what makes the perfect Bagel and Lox. There are many opinions, but as far as I’m concerned, only one that counts: my own.
So without further ado, here is my recipe for the perfect Bagel and Lox.
Start with a Bagel, either sesame or poppy seed, and cut it with a bread knife, being careful that both halves are of similar thickness.
We are talking here of a PLAIN bagel, not a cinnamon-raisin aberration or anything else of the sort. Ideally, it should have been cooked in the last hour. Do not put in the microwave. I get my bagels at St-Viateur Bagels, but in a pinch, Fairmount would do.
Now, to the cream cheese. Spread a healthy dollop of cream cheese on the bottom half of the bagel, and a thin covering on the top half. There is a reason for that, which I’ll come to in a little while. You should be using Philadelphia brand cream cheese, which you left out of the fridge for 10-15 minutes before use, so that it is easier to spread.
Lox. Smoked Salmon. Red Gold. Proof of the existence of G*d. As far as I’m concerned, all lox is good, so get whichever you like most. I buy mine at Costco in large quantities, and I try to purchase Wild Pacific Salmon when I can, but I’m not very picky.
You should put 3 or 4 slices of salmon on the bottom half of the bagel. In a perfect world, the salmon on your bagel should be little less than half an inch thick, but for those on a budget, its perfectly alright to put a little less. What we are looking is the perfect harmony of flavors, and that can be achieved without overplaying any of the ingredients.
Over the lox, you should put onions. I use yellow or white onions, raw of course, cut in rings. I love raw onions, so I usually put quite a bit. Some people use red onions, but I don’t like the color, as it clashes with the salmon, and I don’t find the taste so fantastic, either. But that’s a matter of taste. I would certainly use them if that’s all I had.
The perfect bagel and lox combination requires capers. Get a healthy spoonful of capers, and drain as much vinegar as you can. Sprinkle them on the inside of the top half of the bagel, on which you have applied a thin spread of cream cheese. They should stick to the cream cheese and stay in place.
“So I can now close my bagel and lox, and enjoy my little slice of heaven right here on Earth, right?” I hear you ask.
Not quite yet.
Get out your bottle of extra-virgin, cold pressed olive oil, and pour out a little ‘filet’ over the onions and the lox, and immediately close your bagel and lox sandwich.
You can now cut it in half and enjoy the greatest bagel and lox sandwich that has ever existed. The soft texture and subtle taste of the lox and cream cheese, the bite of the raw onion and the acidity of the capers, the binding velvety exquisiteness of the olive oil… Ah….
In retrospect, to craft the ‘perfect bagel and lox sandwich’, you will need:
Montreal bagels, uber-fresh and ideally from St-Viateur Bagels
Philadelphia Cream cheese (“Light” is OK if you’re on a diet)
Smoked Salmon, whichever you like best
White or yellow onions, raw, cut in rings or slices
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
And here’s what you will NOT need:
Lettuce. You are not a rabbit. Lettuce has no place in a bagel and lox sandwich.
Tomatoes. Tomatoes in this context are a SIN, and not the good (or fun) kind of sin.
Cooked or sautéed onions, or mushrooms. That is wrong on so many levels; I’m not even going to get into it. Don’t do it.
Any bagel that is not sesame or poppy seed. Cinnamon-raisin, whole wheat, onions, and other assorted affronts to Bageldom. You know who you are. I’m not saying you’re not tasty and delicious under certain circumstances, but YOU ARE NOT BAGELS, and as such have no place anywhere near lox and cream cheese.