I know my husband loves me because whenever we visit NY, he wakes up at the crack of dawn for a run, and on his way home stops to get me a bagel with lox and a cup of coffee. He knows that it’s my favorite breakfast–when we’re in NY–and I look forward to it the moment our tickets are booked.
Bagels are to NYC as sourdough is to San Francisco. New Yorkers are very territorial about their bagels, and make all kinds of claims as to why their bagels are superior. It’s ‘da wa-tah’ is one that I hear a lot. There may be some truth to that as the mineral content in water can vary from city to city. Not only does the water composition affect the dough but it might make a difference in the poaching results. Also, NY bagels, as least the proper ones, are hand formed, which explains why one side is slightly thicker than the other as the two ends are brought together. A slow fermentation process in wooden bowls may also be a contributing factor to the authentic taste of a NY bagel. In older bagel establishments, dough slowly ferments in well worn wooden bowls that have been used for decades. Not unlike the lineage of a great sourdough, where the original starter can be traced back to the opening of the bakery, the history of the wooden bowls have an important role in the taste of the bagels.
But according to Slate.com, these stalwart bagel establishments don’t do so well in government health inspections. Do you know how I feel about government health inspectors? They are like the teacher that punishes the entire class for one obnoxious kid. Yes, yes, but we need order and standards in our ridiculous “I need to eat strawberries in the winter” culture. Unfortunately, truly delicious things are fermented, which means bacteria is involved, and bacteria can be an inspector’s worst nightmare or dream(depending on the sadistic nature of inspector).
I haven’t lost my mind, and am fully aware that I’m making sushi rolls here but have gone too long on the topic of bagels. Let me get you caught up. I woke up this morning, and it was colder than usual, a sign that summer was fading, and as I poured myself a second cup of coffee, I so wanted a NY bagel with lox schmeared with mile high cream cheese. Rosalie, my dear California friend, always looks befuddled when I describe the tenderness and chewiness of the NY bagel. It sounds like an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp; how can something taste chewy and tender at the same time. But that is what I look for in a good bagel, and my standards are high. (You wouldn’t offer frozen fish sticks to a sushi chef?) And the local bagels just don’t cut it.
I have decided to eat lox and cream cheese sushi rolls instead. I love lox and smoked salmon, although I don’t particularly like cooked salmon. I always think cooked salmon is bland and not a great partner with rice. But the salty bite of the lox flavors the sushi rice like a briny soy sauce. And weirdly, or naturally, cream cheese pairs well with rice. I’m throwing in some slices of avocado because this is California. And all this I will wash down with a third cup of coffee.
- 5 c cooked short grain rice (sushi rice)
- 5 slices of lox or smoked salmon
- 4 nori sheets
- 1 tsp whipping cream or half and half
- 1/4 c plus 1 tbs of cream cheese
- 1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 1 avocado
- sushi rolling mat or tin foil
- If using cold rice, warm in the microwave before use. Otherwise, use freshly cooked rice.
- Place 5 c of warm rice in a large bowl.
- Drizzle rice wine vinegar on the rice. Sprinkle sugar on the rice.
- Using a large spoon, rice paddle, or salad tongs, fluff the rice while incorporating the vinegar and sugar into it. (Fluffing also cools the rice down. Rice should be room temperature before rolling.)
- In a food processor, blend lox with 1 tsp of cream. Place lox in a bowl and gently mix in cream cheese. Set aside along with a bowl of tap water.
- Slice one avocado. Set aside.
- Wet your fingers in the bowl of water before rolling. Spread 1 c of rice onto a nori sheet. Make sure there is an inch border on the top and bottom of the nori sheet.
- About 1/3 up from the bottom of the nori sheet, spread a line of lox spread(about 7 tsp. per nori).
- Place 3 avocado slices on top of lox spread.
- Roll up using sushi rolling mat. Press gently as you roll.
- Place roll with the seam down on a cutting board. Finish rolling all four rolls before slicing so that the seams have a chance to fuse.
- Slice using a wet knife. For clean slices, wet knife and wipe knife down with a paper towel before each slice.