Bagels and Nova (Lox)

In the Northeast, Bagels and Lox is a breakfast staple. It includes, at its most basic: 1) a toasted bagel, 2) cream cheese, and 3) smoked salmon. Traditional additions include a few slices of red onion, capers, and a slice of tomato.

I’m going to say that bagels and lox is an acquired taste, much like sushi. It involves near-raw fish and some textures we in the States don’t encounter regularly. Once acquired, however, bagels and lox are a magical smorgasbord of goodness and my personal favorite breakfast food.

No exaggeration. Bagels and lox are at the top of the list for breakfast. (Also makes an excellent snack food.)

bagels and lox | a post from

Like any regionally preferred food product, bagels and lox in the New York/Philadelphia region often feature made-from-scratch ingredients. Bagels are prepared on-site, lox is sourced from local vendors, tomatoes are Jersey Fresh. Out here in the Southwest, however, the best we get is a good fresh bagel from a shop in a big city. There’s no fresh salmon and few options related to capers.

The lox available in stores and supermarkets here is often referred to as “Nova” which used to mean a non-brined, smoked salmon. These days, most lox (even in the Northeast) is smoked rather than brined so the difference between “nova lox” and just plain lox is minimal. Salt content is usually the most noticeable variation.

Lox “back home” tends to have a briny, salty bite. I suspect this is part of a cultural flavor profile, based on the earlier tradition of brined (rather than smoked) salmon. Brined-only salmon is kinda squishy and gross, not an appealing texture. But the taste is out of this world. So a lot of places in the NE do a salty smoked salmon to mimic the delicious brine but also achieve the texture of smoked salmon.

The stuff here in Texas (and New Mexico and Nevada, too) is markedly less salty. So when I, on rare occasions, indulge myself in a package of Nova and a tube of bagels, I prepare my bagels and lox with some kosher salt and cracked pepper as well as a few capers to capture that delicious brine flavor.

bagels and lox | a post from


What’s your all-time favorite breakfast food and how do you prepare it? What do you do to make it “yours”?

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