Step # 1. Purchase
For the fish to be tasty, it must naturally be fresh. Therefore, we go to the nearest market or to the supermarket for a whole fish carcass, for example, pink salmon, chum salmon, trout or salmon. The main thing is not to take fish that has already been cut, without a head or fins: all the work must be done at home yourself. It is better to buy fish chilled or frozen, but not yet defrosted.
So, the purchase is complete, and you are the happy owner of freshly frozen or fresh red fish with a full set of fins, scales and, possibly, caviar (here you’re lucky, but males’ milk is also delicious).
Step number 2. Preparation for salting
If the fish is frozen, then put it to defrost for several hours, but in no case try to put it in the microwave – everything should happen naturally. In the meantime, prepare everything you need for salting: a fish container, a carving knife, culinary scissors, a mixture for salting, oppression.
As a container for salting, you can take both enameled dishes and a plastic container. It is better not to use metal utensils, as the fish may acquire an extraneous metallic taste. A medium-sized and sharp knife is best, and cooking scissors can be used to cut the fins.
One of the most important points is preparing the pickling mixture.
Naturally, you need to take salt and be sure to use coarse or grind No. 1 (this is written on the pack), because, unlike fine salt, it absorbs excess moisture well and allows the fish to be salted “in its own juice.” You also need to take sugar in a ratio of 3: 1 (3 parts of salt and 1 part of sugar), given that 1 kg of fish requires about 3 tablespoons of the mixture.
The fish can be weighed for this, but everything is usually done by eye. It is also important to take into account that the fish, of course, will not take on excess salt (this is such an unusual product), but from my own experience I was convinced that it is better not to overdo it with salt.
Bay leaves (3-4 pieces per carcass), allspice black peppercorns (5-6 peas) or special spices for cooking fish are allowed as additional ingredients, but in moderation. As oppression, you can take an ordinary three- or two-liter jar of water.
Step # 3. Butchering the fish
The mixture is already ready, and the fish is on the table. First cut off the fish head with a knife. It can be used later for making fish soup. Use culinary scissors to cut off the fins, then slice the belly lengthwise and remove all entrails.
Here a surprise may await you in the form of caviar, if it is a female, or milk, if it is a male. If there are milk inside, then gently wipe them from the remnants of fish giblets and salt together with the carcass, after wiping a little with a salting mixture.
If you’re lucky and you find caviar, then certainly do not throw it away. Remove carefully and place on a plate. You can immediately clean it from the film, but after salting it separates much better. Next, treat with boiling water for disinfection and place for 7-9 minutes in warm salted water at the rate of 2 tablespoons of salt per half liter. But back to the fish.
After you have cut open the abdomen, free it from the remaining viscera. Use scissors to cut to the left and right of the spine, as if separating it from the rest of the bones. In front of you there will be a fish carcass with bones, which will need to be carefully removed. This is done by hand, they are usually easy to remove. The cut carcass, already without bones, entrails and head, can be cut in half if it is rather large, while the small one can be left as it is.
Step number 4. Salting
You should have a fish carcass with skin on your table. Uncover the carcass and sprinkle evenly with the salting mixture. It is better to lay black peppercorns and bay leaves directly when placing the fish in the dishes, which you do by distributing them in the salting containers. Next, cover the fish with oppression and leave it in a warm place, for example, in the kitchen, for a couple of hours, and then put it in the cold. After a day, the fish can be served at the table.
Some useful tips:
If you pickle pink salmon or chum salmon, then they are not as fatty as salmon and trout. Therefore, when salting, they can be slightly flavored with olive oil. All tools that were used for cutting red fish must be thoroughly and more than once rinsed with dishwashing detergent. If this is not done, the fishy smell may remain.
And finally – bon appetit!