Lox and bagel is simply the combination of lox, a bagel, and a few tasty extras.
I've always called this lox and bagel, and that's how I've seen it as on menus and such. Pint says 'bagel and lox' is the common name used in NYC, which I suppose makes it the real name. I'm not arguing with New York as to the proper name for anything that remotely relates to Jewish deli food. And then again, anthropod claims to have only seen this food item as 'bagel with cream cheese and lox' (or 'bagel with lox and cream cheese') on menus up in The Great White North, aka Toronto. The main thing to take away from this is that there a few different things this fine foodstuff can legitimately be called.
- Bagel: You'll want a real 'water bagel', in a flavor that doesn't conflict with the other ingredients, like plain, onion, wheat, or poppy seed. Raisin and chocolate would be poor choices.
- Lox, and a lot of it. I suggest 3-4 oz per serving, but I'm a pig for the stuff, you can probably get away with 2.5 oz if you're feeling stingy. Don't worry too much about the quality of the lox; unless you live in the Pacific Northwest, or are rich, you probably won't be able to get the really good stuff anyway. But do get the best you can find/afford; the $5 to $10 a pound stuff at any decent grocery store is probably good enough if you're just wanting a tasty snack for yourself.
- Cream cheese: Use whatever brand you prefer, I highly suggest regular plain old cream cheese with no extra flavorings. And for the love of Christ, none of that low fat shit. This is no time to go healthy on me.
- Tomato: Red, firm, ripe, you should absolutely get the best tomatoes that are available to you. You need two or three slices per serving, enough to cover the bagel basically.
- A slice or two of mild onion; I tend to use Walla Walla or Vidalia.
- Capers: I don't care if you don't like them, capers are tasty and you should use them. They're good for you, too.
- A chunk of lemon, or some lemon juice
- Crushed black pepper
It's not rocket science:
- Slice the bagel in half (lengthwise). Shout outs to smartalix for reminding me of this vital step.
- Toast the bagel (in a toaster).
- While the bagel is toasting, slice up the tomato and onion. As you do it, cackle about how good this is going to taste.
- Put the schmear on the bagel.
- Layer the lox on top of the cream cheese
- Put a bit of lemon juice on the lox (thanks to Pint for telling me about this)
- ... then the onions and capers (traditional; I prefer to put the capers between the cream cheese and lox, so they don't roll off and I get to put all of them into my pie hole).
- ... then the tomato slices
- ... and finally lots of black pepper on top.
In dire straits, the capers or the pepper can be omitted, though you should most certainly have at least one of them. The tomato is absolutely vital, without that all is lost. The onion is important, but not as important as the tomato. Feel free to only use a little bit, or even omit it entirely if you really don't like onions, but if at all feasible you really do want a little onion in the mix.
The flavors and textures of this are just amazing. The lox and cream cheese make it very salty and fatty, but the moisture from the tomato and onion offsets this nicely. And capers always go very well with smoked salmon, which is basically the point of them. Each ingredient has its own unique texture, which I really enjoy. It doesn't really need much in the way of accompaniment, a cup of coffee or tea should suffice. Albert Herring suggests including a gherkin; apparently this is standard-issue with lox and bagels in the UK. Excellent for breakfast, brunch, midnight snack, you name it.
You can buy a lox and bagel at nearly any deli or bagel shop worth the name, and there are a few places (like Greg's Bagels in Baltimore), which specialize in the lox and bagel experience; such fine businesses typically offer a dozen or more varieties of salmon for your pleasure. But unless you have access to a place like Greg's, you really do want to make them on your own; the ones from a chain like Einstein Bros Bagels are edible, but you can easily do better after a 15 minute trip to the local Safeway to pick up a few things, so get your sweet ass out the door and get to it, this is good stuff.