Just add bagel.
Uncontested fact: Everyone loves bagels. What’s not to love about a chewy, dense, warm orb of carbs? But I hold bagel toppings in equal importance. Of all the toppings, from butter to PB&J, my favorite is salmon cream cheese. Briny, creamy, and whipped until fluffy and light, this salmon cream cheese recipe comes together in less time than it takes to place a bagel order.
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First, the Bagel.
A lot — a lot — of attention, words, research, and even fights have been given over to bagels. Who in New York City, and thus, the world, makes the best bagel? (Ess-a-Bagel, Absolute, The Bagel Hole.) What defines a great bagel? (Glossy, slightly blistered exterior, dense and chewy insides, steamed-then-baked cooking process.) Is toasting a fresh bagel wrong? (Yes.) Where did bagels even come from? (Poland.)
One thing we all know, though, is that we love them. Chewy, dense, and — if you are lucky — glossy and just a little bit crisp on the outside, a good bagel is the ultimate breakfast. But let’s turn our attention to the bagel’s other half: the schmear on top.
Notes for This Salmon Cream Cheese Recipe
Sunday morning bagel breakfasts are best when accompanied with cream cheese, a thin layer of lox, and capers — maybe some red onion or crumbled hard-boiled egg, too. But a smoked salmon cream cheese can be just as satisfying.
Think of the term “smoked salmon” as a broad umbrella. Lox is a variety of cured, smoked salmon taken from the salmon belly. This means it is fattier and more desirable. And a little pricier. Which is why it is found on the best bagel spreads. But it is not imperative to use lox for this recipe. In fact, I think that less-expensive smoked salmon works better. The fatty, more tender lox tends to dissolve into the cream cheese. My preference is wild Alaskan smoked salmon, which has a vivid pink color and stands up well against the blades of a food processor.
This recipe calls only for cream cheese, salmon, and thinly-sliced scallions, but a tablespoon or so of minced dill would also taste good. Or just use dill to garnish. Or no dill. You do you.
Do not worrying about an exact two-ounce weight for the smoked salmon. Just eyeball half of a standard four-ounce package. It will taste great. Err on the side of a little more than a little less.
Salmon Cream Cheese Spread
- 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, slightly softened
- 1 large, or two thin, scallion(s), white and light green parts, sliced very thin
- 2 ounces smoked salmon, sliced
- In a food processor, pulse the cream cheese and smoked salmon until blended but small salmon chunks remain. Scrape the bowl as necessary to combine.
- Add the scallions and blend again until combined. Spread on bagels and garnish as desired.