Lox is salmon fillet that has been cured. In its most popular form, it is thinly sliced—less than in thickness—and, typically, served on a bagel, often with cream cheese and capers.
Noted for its importance in Ashkenazic Jewish cuisine, the food and its name were introduced to the United States through Eastern European Jewish immigrants. The term lox derives from Lachs in German and לאַקס laks in Yiddish, meaning "salmon". It is a cognate of Icelandic and Swedish lax, Danish and Norwegian laks, and Old English læx.
Sometimes called regular or belly lox, lox is traditionally made by brining in a solution of water or oil, salt, sugars and spices (the brine). Although the term lox is sometimes applied to smoked salmon, that is a different product.
- Nova or Nova Scotia salmon, sometimes called Nova lox, is cured with a milder brine and then cold-smoked. The name dates from a time when much of the salmon in New York City came from Nova Scotia. Today, however, the name refers to the milder brining, as compared to regular lox ("Belly Lox"), and the fish may come from other waters or even be raised on farms.
- Scotch and Scottish-style salmon. A mixture of salt and sometimes sugars, spices and other flavorings is applied directly to the meat of the fish; this is called "dry-brining" or "Scottish-style." The brine mixture is then rinsed off, and the fish is cold-smoked.
- Nordic-style smoked salmon. The fish is salt-cured and cold-smoked.
- Gravad lax or Gravlax. This is a traditional Nordic means of preparing salmon. The salmon is coated with a spice mixture, which often includes dill, sugars, salt, and spices like juniper berry. It is then weighted down to force the moisture from the fish and impart the flavorings. It is often served with a sweet mustard-dill sauce.