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May 26, 2010 07:29 AM

Trader Joe's Smoked Salmon

I have a brunch coming up and want to have some good lox to go with the bagels. Right now it's selling for over $30 a pound where I live (San Francisco Bay Area). How is the smoked salmon at Trader Joe's? And which variety is the best? I noticed that they have several kinds. Thanks!

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  1. Are you a Costco member? Their smoked salmon is among the best I've ever had (and inexpensive).

    2 Replies
    1. re: ferret

      I used to be, but not anymore. I did try theirs and thought it was very good.

      1. re: ferret

        Since I see the OP has already responded, this is for other folks: We love Costco's smoked salmon. It's an outstanding value. One of their best products.

      2. Is this question about smoked salmon or lox?

        10 Replies
        1. re: Cathy

          Lox, which my family has always called smoked salmon.

          1. re: The Librarian

            Lox IS smoked salmon but it's cold-smoked to preserve the raw texture. The flavored stuff is hot-smoked which yields the cooked texture..

            1. re: ferret

              Actually, LOX is NOT smoked at all, it is brined, the traditional lox was known as belly and was considered salty by many. Nova is the cold smoked alternative to LOX and has the misnomer of Nova Lox.
              Many younger people who grew up eating Nova mistakenly call it lox.

              ---as an aside, I have a sister in law who is in her late 60s. 40+ years ago, when she was dating my brother, they would come to my mother's home for Sunday brunch. The S-I-L complained that my mother only bought LOX and it was too salty, she only ate Nova. The next week, my mother bought an extra 1/4 lb of Nova for the future D-I-L. She sat at the table, put some on her bagel, tasted it, complained that it was lacking in taste, picked up the salt shaker and salted her Nova. My mother never indulged her again, only belly lox was served in our home.

              In the late 1970s I worked for a Kosher caterer, who also had a deli and appetizing store/restaurant. I learned to hand slice the lox paper thin with a razor wire knife-thin enough to read the NY Times through the lox <VBG>. I must have sliced 1000 lbs over the years, but don't eat any variety of salmon.

              1. re: bagelman01

                You're the expert, Bagelman! By the way, how did you sharpen that knife? And why don't you eat salmon? Do you know something about it that we don't, or did you just get sick of it?

                When i lived in NYC I used to get nova at Zabar's and at Russ & Daughters. I especially liked the nova trimmings which were much cheaper and very nice and fatty, just the way I like it. Zabar's eventually stopped selling the trimmings. I think that Japanese sushi places were buying it all up. But I was still able to get it at Russ, but that was years ago now. Can you recommend an online source for good cold smoked salmon, or maybe even the trimmings?

                1. re: werewolf

                  In those days, there was a knife company who used to call on all the kosher delis and appetizing stores once a week and he would take the knives and swap them for knives he had taken the previous week and sharpened, cleaned and tightened handles. Now, I use a stone and carefully sharpen by hand.

                  I also was one of the few (where I worked) who could properly slice a 'left hand lox'! There is a difference in slicing the two sides of lox that come from a fish, and it is very hard for a right handed person (as I am) to professionally slice a left handed lox (the one side where the tail is to the left when the lox side is placed skinside down on the cutting board).Turning the lox around is not the answer as the grain runs in a particular direction, and you slice towards yourself, not away

                  As to trimmings, one of my late father's favorite delicacies was lox wings that we would normally trim away and trash. Today they get cleaned and the flesh is ground and sold in little plastic containers at high prices.

                  I NEVER ate salmon, or herring, whitefish, sable, etc. BUT I can pick a good one, slice or process it, pickle it or make a fantastic herring in a red onion, yoghurt and cream sauce. I can tell by smell and texture without ever tasting when it's perfect.

                  I can't recommend an online source, as they all seem to be machine sliced, very oily and lacking real taste. That being said, the packaged smoked salmon sold by Costco is probably the best quality of 'commercially available' packaged smoked salmon at reasonable prices. Stay away from brands suck as Nathan's, Rite, etc. There just thick orange slabs of oily crap.

                  Lox should be thin and delicate, just enough on a bagel for flavor and enough texture to the bite, not piled high so that you bite into a pile of slippery mush. This is a case where less is more. Half a bagel, a thin schmear of cream cheese if you like, and one layer of lox to cover, enjoy.

                  1. re: bagelman01

                    Thank you, Mister Bagel Man.

                    Yes, they used to practically give the wings away. I remember the counterman at Zabar's once saying about the same thing you said - that his father liked them - or maybe that was you?

                    A&J's Fine Foods, here in Tucson, has fresh unpackaged smoked salmon, Nova and Scottish, ~ $32 a pound. It's good. When I was in Scotland I bought packaged salmon at the supermarket. It was very good and much cheaper than it is here.

                    I remember once scouting around Costco and being impressed with their smoked salmon. Maybe I will join.

                    1. re: werewolf

                      No, I never worked at Zabr's but have shopped there many times.

                      As to Costco, join make a few purchases and then decide if it's worth the $50 yearly fee. If you decide it's not the fee is refundable any time during the year (NOT pro-rated). It's a no lose proposition.

                      1. re: bagelman01

                        OK, Mister Bagleman, I joined Costco just so I could try their smoked salmon. I got their Kirkland Signature smoked salmon from Norway. It's pretty good for packaged and pre-sliced, and it's inexpensive. It's a little salty for me, but better than TJ's I think. Next time I'll try their Scottish style smoked salmon, and I think I saw something somewhere about their frozen smoked salmon being the best, so I'll look in their freezer section.

                        I just noticed there's a thread on Costco smoked salmon here:


                        1. re: werewolf

                          We have used the Scottish tyle and my wife is very happy with the quality and level of salt. We often divide and freeze it in smaller portions, so I don't buy frozen to defrost and refreeze.

                2. re: bagelman01

                  I used to love the salty lox, I hated the nova. Since lox is so hard to find these days, I've switched to the nova aka smoked salmon over the years. At Fairway Market in NY recently (where they have over a dozen different type of smoked salmon), I asked for a taste of the salty belly lox. It was incredibly salty, I could bared eat the small taste. .

                  Anyway, I will cast another vote for the Costco smoked salmon. It's excellent, especially considering the price. My question is, is there some way to figure out which will be the best quality salmon simply by looking at the package? We are in the middle of a package now which I think has been the best we've ever had. The salmon is very tender, with great flavor, and not too greasy. I wish I knew what I did when I picked it so I could redo it every time.

          2. I'm still curious about Trader Joe's. Thanks!

            3 Replies
            1. re: The Librarian

              Trader Joe's smoked salmon can be quite decent and a good buy. I liked the kind that said Pacific on the package. It's not the real prime stuff though, like I used to get at Russ & Daughters and Zabar's in NY. There's one place here in Tucson that does bring in the prime stuff - not pre-packaged like at TJ's - nova and Scottish smoked salmon, A & J's Fine Foods, but it's a lot more expensive than TJ's. Lox is very salty; nova and Scottish smoked salmon is not salty.

              1. re: The Librarian

                I think Trader Joe's has great prices and a nice variety of smoked salmons. I think we usually get the one that has "Scottish" in the label but all are good. I have also bought at Costco and feel both chains have equally good salmon.

                1. re: The Librarian

                  This is late but I really like TJ's private label lox. Gio recommended it a number of months ago and I bought it for that reason and have bought it since.

                2. I think the budget-priced brand at Trader Joes is fine (13 dollars a pound I think). I'm not an expert, although I've had lox from Russ & Daughters and Zabars - but I do think the packaged stuff at Trader Joes is good too.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: K2000

                    I found some very excellent smoked salmon at Trader Joe. It was marked Scottish Smoke Salmon. $19 a pound, something like that. Best I've had since Zabar's in NYC. Far better than any other kind I've tried at Trader Joe, or at Costco. So naturally they discontinued it. I was told it was only seasonal. That's part of Murphy's Law, you know. If they make something that you really love they will promptly discontinue it.

                    1. re: werewolf

                      "Best I've had since Zabar's in NYC."

                      I should have said Zabar's and Russ & Daughters in NY, NY - and also in Scotland itself when I was there ten years ago.

                      1. re: werewolf

                        I found some smoked salmon that's pretty good, and cheaper than TJ's too: Costco's Kirkland imported from Norway.

                        1. re: werewolf

                          "I found some smoked salmon that's pretty good, and cheaper than TJ's too: Costco's Kirkland imported from Norway."

                          Not "pretty good", but very good...and I just noticed it's the same I tried in June 2010 as per Bagel Man's rec, but I didn't care for it then. Perhaps I just got a bad package that time.

                          1. re: werewolf

                            Most of the Smoked Salmon I have seen at Costco & T.J's is Atlantic/North Atlantic, meaning it is farm raised. It is difficult to find Wild cold smoked salmon, but it is available. Farm raised salmon, Tilapia, Shrimp, Swai, etc. potentially has things in the fat that are better NOT consumed.

                            1. re: ospreycove

                              I don't think it is fair to lump Atlantic salmon with those other fish. Aren't the others mostly from Asian countries where there are legitimate health concerns? Of course, I could be wrong.

                              1. re: MisterBill2

                                Atlantic Salmon is considered farm raised. Since it is in pens off the coasts, much is being made of the feeds used, crowded conditions, and consequent excess of waste created by these crowding conditions; thus affecting the ocean environment around the pens, etc. I could be wrong too about the validity of the health concerns

                              2. re: ospreycove

                                TJs actually has a wild smoked that is excellent and super reasonable. It's all I buy.

                                1. re: Savour

                                  Was just about to post this. TJs has a Pacific brand that is farm-raised, and another brand (perhaps private label? can't recall) that is wild smoked. The wild smoked is about $1 more for the small package and $2-3 more for the large and COMPLETELY worth it. The Pacific is fine, but the wild is pure butter...

                                  1. re: thursday

                                    Thanks for the info. will look for TJ"S wild smoked salmon!!!!

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