The only way to improve a crusty-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside bagel with salty smoked salmon and rich cream cheese and is to find the perfect pairing. Smoked salmon bagels typically use cold smoked salmon, brined longer and smoked at lower temperatures than hot smoked salmon. Among cold smoked salmon, lox has more salty taste than Nova Scotia salmon, brined with less salt. Whether you're looking for sweetness to balance out the salty brine, or crunch to give texture to the soft sandwich, try your accompaniment on the plate, or right inside your sandwich.
Add a Little Crunch
You can't go wrong with traditional toppings for your salmon bagel, like thinly sliced red onions and pickled capers. Those vegetables add freshness, as well as a crunchy texture that give the sandwich more complexity and balance. Add more of the same qualities with thinly sliced raw vegetables, such as cucumbers, green onions, red bell peppers, radishes, tomatoes or zucchini. Or, get some crunch by serving the veggies, a pickle slice or a few chips alongside your sandwich.
Seeking a Balance
Fresh herbs give your bagel a welcome trace of bitterness that balances the rich salmon and cream cheese. Wash fresh herbs thoroughly in running water, pat them dry and use them as whole leaves or chopped. Herbs that pair well with smoked salmon include basil, chives, dill, sorrel and tarragon. A small amount of bitter lettuce served as a side dish would also work -- try chicory, radicchio or a few leaves of baby spinach.
Pile on the Protein
For a special occasion breakfast or brunch, switch out the capers from your salmon bagel and replace them with a tablespoon of elegant caviar and a squeeze of lemon juice. For a less expensive option, cook scrambled eggs to a soft creaminess and add a small amount to the salmon bagel, topping the mix with chopped chives or parsley. For a hearty side, serve a small dish of potato salad with chopped eggs and pickles, all ingredients that pair well with salmon.
Fruit for Inside and Out
While it's an unusual pairing, fruit goes well with salmon and cream cheese because it adds a bit or bright acidity to the sandwich and balances the richness of the fish and cream cheese. Try a thin slice of pineapple or mango with a bit of lemon or lime juice squeezed on top. For a more savory option, try a few slices of avocado with red onion slices to add texture. For sides, add a slice of melon or a grilled peach for a hint of sweetness to balance the salty sandwich.