Bagels and lox is a top seller at Lakewood, Colo.-based Einstein Bros. Bagels. To capitalize on its popularity, Chad Thompson, senior director of R&D for the 860-unit chain, created a riff on the go-to duo for a spring LTO called the Honey Smoked Salmon Sandwich. “Salmon is considered a healthier protein, but not all consumers like the texture of lox,” he says. The solution: something that would attract those consumers without alienating lox fans.
Finding a cure
Thompson decided to try a hot-smoked salmon fillet flavored with a touch of honey. The hot-smoking process results in a flaky texture similar to cooked salmon. “We didn’t have to go outside our two or three regular salmon suppliers,” he says, noting that the product was priced about the same as lox. Each bagel sandwich contains two ounces of salmon.
Relish the topping
Einstein’s bagel and lox is typically layered with sliced tomato, cucumber and onion, but Thompson gave these ingredients a special twist for the sandwich. He created a tomato-cucumber relish with capers and lemon juice. The relish is made fresh daily in small batches so it doesn’t get soggy. “It provides a welcome color contrast to the salmon,” Thompson says.
Choosing the schmear
Although Einstein Bros. offers a number of flavored cream cheese choices, the menu suggests pairing this sandwich with the double-whipped onion-chive variation. It’s a proprietary product made from a house recipe. The “schmear” adds a creamy counterpoint and brings the elements together, Thompson says.
Out of the running
Thompson and his team tried a hardwood-smoked and a lemon-dill salmon before choosing the honey-smoked version, but those flavors were too assertive. Artichokes, asparagus and spinach also were tested to layer on top of the salmon, but they were nixed in favor of the tomato-cucumber relish; it had the right balance of tart flavor and crisp texture, Thompson says.