It was less than 24 hours of Alex’s arrival to NYC from Australia. Finally, after years of a long-distance relationship, Alex was in my apartment turned ours.
I knew right away that I wanted to stuff him silly with delicious food from all of NYC’s delicious restaurants, even if he was jetlagged!
He arrived at JFK Airport late afternoon, August 3, 2019. We grabbed an Uber from the airport to Murray Hill and I was so excited to show him our place, an apartment I had hunted down and found after some serious research and stalking the year prior.
That night, we dined on delicious Hong Kong style dim sum at Tim Ho Wan (添好運). He was delirious from fatigue but also deliriously intoxicated by the delicious food.
An Iconic NYC Welcome
The next morning, Alex was asleep, recovering from hours and hours of travel and I just knew what we’d eat for breakfast. I wanted to get us a good ol’ New York bagel.
When I was living by myself in NYC, I had discovered a bagel place just three blocks away. I’d often wake up on the weekends, completely excited in anticipation of devouring a toasted whole wheat everything bagel.
Lox, fish spread, sausage + cheese, scallion cream cheese – no matter what the topping, something about the crunch of the bagel and the everything spices in combination with the protein of choice just jived.
This picture above was from Alex’s first breakfast in New York City after moving here. And it was iconic. Chrysler Building in view, black coffee freshly percolated, the bagel sandwiches I had picked up early AM – quintessential NYC. And we were finally living in the same place!
Bagel Sandwich Obsession: The Origins
Alex had tried the NYC bagel sandwich before his move to NYC. It was September 2017. I had been living in Greenpoint for five months. Alex took some time off work to visit me from Australia and spend some time together during our LDR.
For breakfast one day, I stopped by this corner deli on Driggs and Humboldt and ordered us each a sausage, egg and cheese bagel sandwich.
It was obsession at first taste.
When I would get up each morning to go to work, Alex would message me that he had gone to the deli to pick up a bagel sandwich. I think in his four weeks of visiting, he had eaten a bagel sandwich almost every day for breakfast.
Bagel Sandwich Obsession: The Sequel
And so began the newly found bagel sandwich obsession, one that had been previously established in Greenpoint with a hiatus in Australia but now making its way to Manhattan. For the back half of 2019, Alex and I would stop by Zucker’s Bagels and Smoked Fish every weekend to dine in or pick up some yummy wonderful delight.
We’d often stop by a cute, quaint and friendly coffee shop, Lucid Cafe. It became our go-to neighborhood coffee shop stop. Then we’d walk to Zucker’s and brave the long line of fellow bagel lovers. Since it was almost always a packed house at Zucker’s, we loved having our hot coffee beverages in hand while waiting in line.
I’d coach Alex on the need to know your order and prep in advance to tell the line chef and order taker quite confidently and clearly what it was you wanted. There definitely wasn’t much tolerance for any dawdlers and those hemming and hawing. After all, it was just the speed of the city.
It was worth it. So many delicious bagel brekkies for this newly reunited couple.
Bagel Sandwich Obsession: The Now
Lately, as with many around the world, we have been cooking and making our own meals quite a bit. We both enjoy cooking and we’ve gotten decent at developing a little repertoire of our favorites that we can make down pat.
One of these favorite meals is in celebration of our obsession with bagel sandwiches. We’ve been purchasing store bagels and then making a delicious fish salad spread to accompany it. Since we’ve been walking less in general with NYC’s PAUSE, we’ve been trying to eat just a bit healthier!
And voilà a very tasty but very much guilt-free fish spread that we’ve been making. It is satisfying, filling, has a simultaneous fluffy and crunchy texture and it reminds us of our days walking to grab a bagel sandwich with the hustle bustle of the NYC streets. Times have changed a bit now, but it’s been fun to try to be more creative.
See the quick recipe below or read on for a more detailed recipe with my tips and tricks. Enjoy!
Zero Guilt Salmon Fish Spread
Zero Guilt Salmon Fish SpreadCourse: BreakfastCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Tasty, healthy and perfect atop a toasted bagel, this easy fish salad spread will be your new go-to. With fresh crunchy vegetables and fish of your choice, you can enjoy this breakfast or light snack with absolutely zero guilt.
12 oz (340 g) canned fish of your choice
12 oz (340 g) Greek yogurt
3-4 stalks celery
1 red onion
1-2 sprigs green onions
2 tbsp dijon mustard
cayenne pepper (optional)
- Prepare a large bowl. Dice red onion, green onions and celery and add to bowl.
- Finely zest one lemon and squeeze its juice into a separate small bowl. Set aside.
- Open up the canned fish of your choice, making sure to drain 95% of the liquid out. Add drained fish to the bowl of diced vegetables.
- To the large bowl, add the Greek yogurt, dijon mustard, lemon zest and lemon juice and combine ingredients until evenly coated.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly again until distributed. Optional for those who love spice: add cayenne pepper to taste.
- Serve on a toasted bagel. Enjoy!
- Highly customizable: You can also sub, swap out or add different ingredients of your choice. See below for some ideas!
- Canned fish ideas: salmon, tuna, mackerel, smoked trout
- Additional vegetable ideas: white onions, chives, bell peppers, jalapeños
- Additional herb + spices ideas: smoked paprika, dill, garlic salt
- You can also change up the flavors and textures by adding in sauces such as worcestershire and hot sauce.
- Additional details: Keep reading the post for some tips + tricks on prep and to see the steps in more detail. Hope you enjoy!
Detailed Instructions: Zero Guilt Salmon Fish Spread
I love this fish spread so much because it’s completely delicious but I don’t feel one ounce of guilt while eating it! You can choose the type of fish you want and keep it simple by using canned fish. In this case, Alex and I have chosen to go with canned wild-caught Alaskan pink salmon that we got from our Amazon fresh delivery.
You can sub, swap and add other vegetables, too
It’s also super versatile because you can add in different crunchy vegetables and adjust according to your preference. We like red onion, celery and green onions but you can also use white onions, chives, bell peppers, jalapeños – you get the idea!
1: Prepare a large bowl. Dice red onion, green onions and celery and add to bowl.
I like using a very large bowl so that it makes for easier mixing later on. I also love it when the fish spread is cold, so I will put the onion in the fridge about an hour in advance.
Coax more flavor out of the green onions
For the green onions, I’ve always found the white part of the stalk to carry the most flavor. And I like to bring out that flavor and spread it out throughout the fish salad spread. So I will basically score the white portion with a few cuts to expose more surface area prior to dicing.
This similar concept goes for the celery stalks. I like little bites of celery so that it’s not too large and so that it can be better distributed throughout the spread. I will also chop the stalk the long way into sections before dicing.
The freshness of these vegetables, the bold flavors and the crunchy textures really add a lot of pizzazz to the overall enjoyment. And by adding volume with vegetables, I also feel so good about eating this yummy snack!
2: Finely zest one lemon and squeeze its juice into a separate small bowl. Set aside.
Alex zested the lemon in the picture above! I like having the zest and juice in a separate bowl to add in later because it’s easier to take out the seeds of the lemon in case they fall into the bowl. But, if you’re not worried about that, feel free to zest and juice straight into the main large bowl!
I also like to make sure the lemon has been put in the fridge in advance so that it’s not lukewarm when being added to the rest of the dish.
3: Open up the canned fish of your choice, making sure to drain 95% of the liquid out. Add drained fish to the bowl of diced vegetables.
Canned fish makes this recipe easy!
A great component to this dish is that you can pretty much use any type of canned fish. We usually make it with canned salmon, but have also used canned tuna and mackerel, too. It really depends on what you prefer or what you’re in the mood for!
4: To the large bowl, add the Greek yogurt, dijon mustard, lemon zest and lemon juice and combine ingredients until evenly coated.
Funny how the Greek yogurt and the lemon zest look like a sunny-side up egg! I didn’t do it on purpose!
Even looking at the different colors and textures makes me feel so good about what we are putting in our body. You can adjust the amount of dijon mustard. We love the seeds and the mustard because it gives it another bite and complexity to a simple breakfast.
We are almost done! Time to combine the ingredients and begin to mix it up! We like to mix and fold but not excessively, or the liquid may start to separate.
Can’t wait for this fish dish!
5: Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly again until distributed. Optional for those who love spice: add cayenne pepper to taste.
Alex and I both enjoy eating spicy foods, so we put some cayenne pepper into our salmon salad spread. I also bring some to the table to sprinkle on top of the mixture for some extra kick!
This fish spread is highly customizable. So add your own take on herbs, spices and sauces!
You can also add different herbs and spices that you prefer, such as smoked paprika, garlic salt and dill. If you’re feeling it, you can also add in different sauces to change up the texture and flavor of the dish such as worcestershire or hot sauce!
6: Serve on a toasted bagel. Enjoy!
Alex was on bagel toasting duty. These were the store-bought everything bagels that we got. We are both pretty obsessed with bagels. We miss going to some of our go-to bagel spots in NYC, but have really enjoyed toasting our own and making our own filling!
Just look at that! I love the creaminess and fluff of the Greek yogurt and then the delicious hits of seasoning transitioning into a chomp chomp of healthy veggies.
Alex and I just love this fish spread atop a toasted everything bagel. So simple, zero fuss, zero guilt but 100% enjoyment!
We’re so happy that we can bring our previous experiences in the city to life.
I can almost imagine the early AM rise, putting on easy clothing, strolling to our go-to coffee place and then to the busy lines at Zucker’s, to concisely stating our order with purpose, to taking the delightful sandwiches home to enjoy on a Saturday morning.
Hope you enjoy this scrumptious meal. Grundy certainly loves it. He tells us that, as a bear, he really wants to go fishing and start his own fishing cannery. That’s how much he loves this brekkie!