The Yiddish word kosher literally means “appropriate” or “fit”, while some dictionaries also offer such equivalents as “pure” or “clean”. This term often refers to the foods that are prepared in accordance with the set of the Jewish dietary rules, known as Kashrut. These rules exclude certain types of food from the diet and define the special methods of cooking, but they cannot be regarded as one of the cooking styles. Kashrut is considered to be the way of life, and keeping kosher implies following the traditional Jewish guiding principle of food consumption.
Although several theories have been developed, none of them gives a definite answer to the question how different food is identified either as kosher or as non-kosher. It is thought to be a chok or something that is bequeathed by the Torah and hence goes without saying.
Yes, it is. According to the Torah, a kosher fish has both fins (snapir) and scales (kaskeses). The scales must be round or resemble the shape of a honeycomb. Furthermore, it must be easy enough to remove them without damaging the fish skin. Therefore, prawns and shrimp, crabs and lobster, octopus, oysters or eels, as well as whales or sharks, cannot be considered as kosher seafood.
In its turn, salmon takes probably the most unquestionable position in the general kosher fish list, which also includes tuna, trout, cod, herring, sardines and some other species. Along with the kosher salmon, all these fishes possess the physical characteristics mentioned above. Besides, it is claimed, that the distinct color of salmon’s flesh makes it easier to recognize this fish when it is sold scaled.
Originally, the popular delicious snack of the bagel topped with cream cheese and smoked salmon was brought to America by the Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. They were actually more accustomed to pickled herring, but it was too expensive at that time. That is why the newcomers turned their attention to the salmon kosher qualities and the affordable price of this fish. Cured salmon bellies, which were traditionally soaked in salt brine for better preservation, became known as lox. This name is derived from the Yiddish word laks meaning “salmon”. Although it referred only to the cured salmon at first, today this term may also define the Jewish smoked salmon, but a professional will tell you, it is not right.
Anyway, the sublime smoked salmon, mellow crème fraiche and fresh bagel together will make a perfect hors d’oeuvre for the most discerning gourmets.