Chickpea "tuna," I still love you, but when it comes to non-fish fish, nothing holds a candle to carrot "lox."
There's no salmon here, but the carrots—fileted, seasoned with smoked salt and liquid smoke, then steam-roasted in the oven—are remarkably similar in color, texture, and flavor, too.
It looks like lox, talks like lox, walks like lox, and most importantly tastes like lox, but is... smoked carrots! I had to check it like 5 times before I took a bite to make sure I hadn't accidentally grabbed someone else's order.
The carrots still have a slight crunch, but they truly evoke smoked fish and not in a creepy faux-meat kind of way. Paired with herbed horseradish sour cream, capers, dill, radish, and raw onions it tastes like the real deal (and maybe even better).
Carrot lox isn't a new phenomenon on the internet, where there exist many different methods for fishing it: Some people recommend salt-baking the carrots before slicing them, then marinating them for multiple days; others instruct you to simply slice the carrots, toss them with liquid smoke and soy sauce, and bake them in a foil pouch.
The first method yielded carrots that were too firm; the second, carrots that were burnished and crunchy. Determined to find the lox-iest root vegetables out there, I found that the most effective method was to slice the carrots lengthwise—thin but not translucent or they'll crisp and burn—rub them with salt, sugar, and pepper till they soften up, coat them with egg and lemon zest, and bake them, covered, until soft.
The egg component sounds strange—and it stops the dish from being vegan-friendly—but it creates a soft, slightly-sweet outside layer. And where it runs down between the slices, you're left with eggy bits reminiscent of the thinner edges of sliced fish. (If you don't eat eggs, take a cue from YamChops—Canada's first vegetarian butcher—where they used a vegan egg replacement to the same effect.)
- 1 pound organic carrots (about 5 to 6 large)
- 2 teaspoons smoked sea salt
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
If you're looking to make it taste even more like the sea, follow Stonefruit's lead and add sesame oil and crushed nori before roasting. Experiment with adding miso paste or rice wine vinegar, too.
Serve carrot lox however you'd serve lox-lox—on a bagel with cream cheese, sliced red onion, and capers. (Psst—it's also good on matzo.)