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The Different Types Of Smoked Salmon

Page 3: What Is Lox & Other Types Of Cold Smoked Salmon

What is lox? What used to be called lox now goes by many names. This is Page 3 of a four-page article. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.

Types Of Cold Smoked Salmon: A Glossary
 Here’s an overview of what’s out there. It is important to emphasize that these are only general categories: Quality varies enormously by manufacturer. We purchased one brand of Nova Scotia Salmon at our local supermarket that is a world away in quality (average) from the superior Nova Scotia we buy at Zabar’s, although the price difference is only a couple of dollars. (We just don’t have the time to get to Zabar’s!) We also tried one organic brand recently—our first—that would put us off of ever trying organic again if we were not food adventurers (plus, it’s our job). Yet, other organic brands are delicious. So labels mean nothing, price means nothing: Keep trying until you find what you like!

Authentic (naturally) smoked salmon is smoked over wood chips with salt and sugar, using no preservatives. National preferences vary: Scottish smoked salmon is subtle and delicate, Norwegian smoked salmon has a heavier smoky profile. The types of wood and amounts of salt and sugar (and other spices) contribute to the difference.
In alphabetical order:

  • Belly Lox is a saltier style of smoked salmon that is brine cured—not smoked.
  • Danish Smoked Salmon tends to be sweeter than Scottish, due to more sugar in the seasoning mix; otherwise it is very similar.
  •  Double Smoked Salmon. Salmon that is smoked twice, for a smokier flavor.
  • Gravlax is not smoked salmon, but its cured cousin from Sweden. Fresh salmon is rubbed with a mixture of dill, sugar and herbs and placed under a weight to cure.
  • Irish Smoked Salmon is naturally smoked Atlantic salmon that uses aromatic oak chips from Irish Whiskey casks.
  • Lox is an old generic term, slowly slipping out of usage. In the past, people asked for lox when they wanted Nova Scotia smoked salmon. Lox is a Yiddish word for salmon, and a cognate of the Swedish lax, Danish/Norwegian laks, German Lachs and Old English læx.


  Peppered Smoked Salmon
Peppered smoked salmon from Perona Farms makes specialty salmons in five
flavors: Atlantic smoked salmon in Bacon,
Gravalox, Ming Tsai’s Five Spice Chile Tea,
Moroccan and Scampi.
  • Norwegian Smoked Salmon is Atlantic salmon in a smokier style that is more pale and peachy in color.
  • Nova Scotia Smoked Salmon (“Nova”) is a term originally used in the eastern United States to broadly describe cold-smoked Atlantic salmon (originally caught near Nova Scotia) before other types became widely imported (today King salmon from the Pacific Northwest are also used). In lesser products, chum salmon, which has a pale meat color, is also ; food coloring is added to enhance the appearance. With Nova Scotia smoked salmon, brown sugar is added to the brine, contributing to a milder taste than belly lox. The fish are filleted and trimmed upon arrival, cured for five days and then cold smoked for 10 to 12 hours. The resulting flavor is less salty and more subtle than lox.
  •  Pickled Lox is a Jewish specialty, chunks of smoked salmon pickled in a savory brine with sugar and spices—generally bay leaf and clove. It available with a clear sauce (the pickling brine) or in a cream sauce.
  • Scottish Smoked Salmon smokes Atlantic salmon using oak and produces a flavorful yet more elegant and silky-style smoked salmon (some say “leaner”) that has a more orange-pink color. It is smokier and a bit drier than Nova Scotia salmon, which makes it a bit more “toothsome.”


  Pickled Lox
Pickled lox is available from in clear sauce, shown above, and cream sauce.
  •  Smoked Salmon refers to any salmon which is smoked, regardless of the specific process involved. It can be sold in quarter-pound, pound and multi-pound units, whole sliced or unsliced sides, trimmings (good for omelets and salad).

It’s important to note, though, that with artisanal products, standards vary according to what the producer wants to make—what the company thinks tastes good. Purchase half a dozen different brands of Scottish salmons (or any type), and you’ll notice differences. Some Scottish salmons we bought didn’t specify that they used oak, for example, but “hardwood,” which could be common to any number of types of smoked salmon. In the end, though, quality is quality. Depending on what’s available to you, you may find it isn’t the exact style of smoke that wins you over, but the standards of the producer.

 Continue To Page 4: Types Of Hot-Smoked Salmon
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Last Updated  Mar 2021

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