F*** yeah belly lox

At the very end of yesterday’s NYC trip I was in midtown with an hour before I had to leave for the airport, so I did what anyone would do — took the 1 up to 79th street and dashed into Zabar’s to get a half-pound of belly lox in an insulated bag with an ice pack.

Belly lox is not the lox you get on a bagel at the bagel store, no way.  It’s not smoked, but salt-cured, from the fattiest part of the salmon.  It is salty, very salty.  It presents a resistance to the teeth, then snaps, then melts like butter in your mouth.  It’s something like a very briny top-quality sushi invented by Jews and sliced very thin.  Of all the things people claim they only do right in New York (pastrami, bagels, pizza, etc.) belly lox is the one they actually only do right — hell, as far as I know, only do at all — in New York.

You could have this on a bagel, but should you really dilute the majesty of belly lox with that much bread?  On the other hand, it’s too intense to eat more than a few bites of it plain.  Here’s the way I’m eating it — on an Ak-Mak cracker with a little cream cheese.  Holy hell, this is amazing.



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10 thoughts on “F*** yeah belly lox

  1. Tom Goodwillie says:

    How is this related to “nova”? I am a sushi lover and a smoked salmon lover but neither a New Yorker nor a connoisseur.

  2. JSE says:

    Nova is smoked and is more like what you get if you order “lox” in most bagel shops. It’s a much darker pink than the belly lox pictured above. Nova is great too, don’t get me wrong!

  3. rmb says:

    Belly lox is foul (there’s actually a deli in SF that imports it from Brooklyn). You should have gotten sable instead.

  4. Ø says:

    The reason I ask is that I have the impression that nova is fattier than the kind of smoked salmon that I am accustomed to, and that this was a bad thing. But of course Jack Spratt and all that.

  5. JSE says:

    I like both sable and sturgeon but when it comes down to it I’d never choose either one over either nova or lox.

  6. byesac says:

    I liked everything about this post. Reading your description of belly lox reminds me of the first time I had pork belly.

  7. Thads says:

    Lox is wonderful on a bagel; just use a single thin slice to avoid being overpowered.

    Nova, I’m told, is named after Nova Scotia but never comes from there any more.

  8. rmb says:

    I’ve seen plenty of smoked salmon and smoked sturgeon in the Bay Area, but oddly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen either sable or belly lox outside of the New York area, except for the imported stuff.

    How close do you find belly lox to gravlax (both being forms of cured salmon)?

  9. Richard says:

    n the Bay Area … I don’t think I’ve ever seen either sable …


    Just a (decades-term) customer here. No experience of or opinion of NYC deli standards.

  10. […] Zingerman’s at the way out of town to pick up some supplies I can’t get in Madison:  belly lox, pastrami, and […]

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