Breaking news! Trader Joe's has unleashed a mini-torrent of new products, of which Nina and I have tried four in the past few days. So I've taken out of the blog publication schedule the things that were in line to run this week, moved them to a later date, and put in four reviews of brand-new items. This is the first.
This is a new product at Trader Joe's. They've put up two articles about it on their web site, first announcing its arrival, then promoting it in the Fearless Flyer. You can learn the basic points about it there.
I saw somebody on Twitter rave about it, and I thought it sounded interesting. (Who thinks up things like salmon pastrami? Trader Joe's!) However, I have no experience in cooking fish, since I generally don't like fish. So I asked Nina to take charge of cooking it--at which time she clued me in to what would have been obvious to anybody else, which is that smoked salmon isn't meant to be cooked.
I had not brought home any of the other stuff that one might normally serve with it--because what does a nice Mormon-raised Illinois boy know from lox?--so Nina decided to make it into sandwiches with some fresh sourdough bread I had just purchased, butter, and lettuce.
I liked it. I thought it tasted more like pastrami than salmon, because of the dominance of the sugar, salt, and spices they've added. (See the links above for full information.)
It won't become my favorite thing ever. However, when I bring home something that is, to me, kind of exotic and risky, I always assume that it could fall anywhere on the spectrum from "best thing ever" to "worst thing ever." Anytime such an item falls on the "like" side of that range, I consider it a success. Today I can say that I like salmon pastrami. Yesterday I could not say that. So--a win!
Will I buy it again?
I didn't like it enough for a repeat performance. But I won't turn up my nose at it if it or something similar gets served to me in the future.
This is okay smoked salmon. I was improvising, and so it wasn't offered up in what I would consider an optimal context: cream cheese, capers, bagel (or crackers). This product really shouldn't be served in a sandwich—it's too delicate a texture and flavor for that.
As taken aback as I was by being asked to cook lox, now that I'm noodling with the idea, I am curious. What would happen if you fried lox up like bacon? Would you end up with crispy, crispy fish-bacon?
My guess is it would be a waste of an expensive delicacy, but now I have to try it… at least ONCE.