Pickled Salmon

Um…don’t know what to say about this.  I like salmon.  I like it smoked, grilled, barbequed, en papillote…but boy was this fishy once the pickling process was finished and I don’t like tremendously fishy fish.  I had one bite on the night of the medieval feast and could barely get that down.  My husband, who only eats fish creek-side in Montana cooked over an open fire literally minutes after he’s pulled the little suckers out of the water, only had to take one whiff to decide that he wasn’t going to ruin the rest of his meal with the lingering memory of that fish.  The boys, however, loved it and gobbled it right down during that course and for a few lunches that followed.  I did end up having to feed the last piece to the kitten who noticed right away the vinegar and pickling spice odor and turned his nose up at it.  The yeller lab, on the other hand, was happy to have the meal the stupid cat (in his opinion) passed on.

My mom would have loved it.  She can’t get enough pickled or smoked fish, being a born and raised German.  I remember as a kid there always being a jar of pickled herring in the refrigerator, full of slimy sour cream coated fish strips and julienne onions, which the three of us girls, Mom, Sis, and I, would take turns stabbing with forks and devouring until the jar was empty.  I don’t buy it now because I can no longer tolerate more than a piece or two and found out the hard way that the rest goes to waste.  But now that I have true German blooded boys who love pickled fishes and liverwurst I guess it will be a tradition around here now, too.  Hubby, like Dad, won’t touch the stuff.

The ol’ cucumber slices to simulate fish scales was a must-do after we learned that the medieval peoples worked hard to make their foods look as they did before the butchering, and I assume, filleting process.  We knew a head of any sort sitting on our  dinner table probably wouldn’t go over well the boys’ father, even though he sucked down many a fresh brook trout in his younger years, so we were happy with the fact that our local store only offered decapitated fish. We chose a pretty fillet and took it home to pickle.

We pretty much followed the recipe from godecookery.com but adapted it a little.


1 salmon fillet

1 med. cucumber

Poaching Liquid:

Water-  enough to cover the fish in a shallow saute pan

2 T salt

Pickling Liquid:

2 c. white vinegar

1 c. poaching liquid

2 T salt

1 T black peppercorns

1/2 c. onions, julienne

1 tsp. dried thyme


Bring the water and salt to poaching temperature, basically just before a simmer with little or no movement to the water.

Lay the fish in the poaching liquid and allow to cook slowly for 15 to 20 minutes.


When it’s done it should begin to flake when pressed.

Place in a shallow, glass, heat tolerant dish, the length of the fish.  Bring the ingredients for the pickling liquid to a boil in a small saucepan.

Boil for a few minutes to allow the flavors to combine.  Pour over the salmon, making sure the fish is covered by the liquid.

Cover and allow it to pickle in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Cut the cucumber in half, lengthwise, then cut very thin slices horizontally to replicate the look of big fish scales.  Drain the fish of pickling juices and dry thoroughly.  Lay out the “scales”, beginning at the tail, to cover the fish in rows.

My boys had fun with this part of making the meal.  We also used trimmed strips of leek greens to garnish the plate, simulating sea grass.  Fun!

When my boys saw how easy it was to pickle something they begged me, literally begged, to make pickled eggs.  Their uncle loves them and ran into a convenient store when my husband stopped to pump gas, years ago, and came out with one of those jars of pink liquid filled with eggs, you know the kind that sit on the shelf next to the pickled pigs’ feet?  ICK!  He made us all try one.  The boys loved them, I almost gagged.

So, just for them, I boiled up a bunch of eggs, filled a jar, added boiled red wine and white vinegar, salt and water to make the liquid pink, just like they remembered, and let them sit for a couple of days in the fridge, making it look as if a mad scientist or crazed serial killer lives in the basement.  They were so happy but did coerce me into trying a nibble.  Gag.  ICK!  Just like I remembered!

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