A plant-based alternative to traditional salmon lox made with carrot ribbons instead brined with salt, smoke, citrus, and fresh herbs. Whether you are looking to cut down on fish or are vegan, or vegetarian this is a great vegetable based alternative and is a close replica to salmon. Add it to your next brunch board as a vegetarian alternative or enjoy it for breakfast or dinner.
We’ve been seeing a lot of carrot lox as a vegan/vegetarian alternative to traditional lox specifically on vegan restaurant menus. We’re also seeing other food bloggers coming up with their own versions and seeing it across our social media feeds. I think it’s great that there are more and more alternatives out there and people are slowly transitioning to more plant-based eating. We are also trying to find more ways to incorporate vegetables into our diets and are constantly researching plant-based alternatives that we would enjoy.
Lox and bagel or smoked salmon is not something that we ate very often, probably only a handful of times mostly because salmon is expensive. We decided to give this a try for a few reasons- the first reason being we wanted to see if it could truly mimic salmon, the second is that it is appealing to look at which is great when developing recipes and taking pictures, and third is that it is a cost saving alternative.
The most common salmon spreads are lox, gravlax, and nova which have some similarities in the methods used to prepare the salmon and have some kind of cure component. Where they are different is in the seasoning and whether they are cold smoked or not. Cold smoking involves curing the fish first than smoked at a low temperature that is too low to cook the salmon mostly from the cured layer which protects the salmon and keeps it vibrant pink unlike smoked salmon which is cooked at a higher heat. Out of these three styles nova is the only one that is actually smoked.
TCF’s version of lox is a mixture of all three preparation methods. What we mean by this is we kept the raw texture of lox, incorporated fresh dill and citrus from gravlax and the smokiness of the nova. The reason being is that we wanted to replicate salmon as best as we could and found that we couldn’t do it without using components from all three. Without the smokiness I don’t think this could even be considered as an alternative. That being said do not skip the smoke it is by far and ingredient you cannot do without. It honestly starts to smell like smoked salmon once you add the liquid smoke. Maybe it’s just that this particular brand automatically makes me think of smoked salmon when I get a whiff. Regardless it has us fooled.
The process to cook and brine the carrots is reduced quite a bit compared to a lot of other methods where the carrots are roasted instead. Although we haven’t tried roasting the carrots we felt like they would come out too soft and be harder to handle. By blanching they remain a vibrant orange, soften just a little and keep their ribbon shape. The carrot ribbons are salted just a little prior to blanching to draw out a bit of moisture and marinated in a smokey sauce to allow the flavours to soak into the carrots. This recipe calls for the carrots to marinate a minimum of 1 hour otherwise the smokiness would be absorbed enough in the carrots and they would not truly replicate salmon. The carrots can absolutely sit in their marinade much longer, 24 hours to 2 days for a longer cure. The flavours of the smoke would be much stronger in this case.