Salted Char

Salted Char 1

The picture above shows my first attempt at salting fish for preservation. To date, my only experience with salted, dried fish is salt-cod, which I have purchased and used but never prepared for myself. In these of almost universal freezer-ownership, salting and drying fish in order to keep it is not really necessary but the process changes the texture in pleasing ways and intensifies the flavor. I didn’t have cod, which is a bit rare these days, but I had just purchased two large Arctic Char from a guy selling them door to door and I kept back a couple of fillets for this experiment…

Salted Char 2

Basically, I just buried the two fillets in coarse pickling salt (you can see a couple of extra fillets in the background). I left the fillets in the salt for a total of two weeks (give or take a day). Halfway through the process, I opened the container to find that there was a lot of water at the bottom and all of the salt was still in granular form but very damp. I drained off the water and then dried the salt in the oven for about 30 minutes before returning it, and the fillets, to the container to finish curing. When I finally removed the fillets they were still quite pliable, rather like thick pieces of leather, and I let them air dry for a full day, at which point they took on the appearance you saw in the first picture.

 

Salted Char 3

I wrapped one fillet and put it in the fridge for later use and immediately started to soak the first piece in order to reconstitute and remove the salt. It has been many years since I used salt-cod and I seem to recall that it took better than a day for the flesh to become usable once again. I was anticipating the same here but it took a bit less time …

I refreshed the water after about three hours soaking and noted that the water I drained off was quite salty. Three hours later, I tested the water again and there wasn’t much saltiness. I cut a sliver from the edge of the fillet and tasted it and, to my surprise, it tasted not much saltier than fresh. As I was to discover, though, the middle of the fillet was still quite salty, although not horribly so.

 

Salted Char 4

Here you can see the reconstituted fillet. It is quite pliable, albeit not quite as tenderly so as fresh, but this is part of the quality of dried fish that makes it nicely different from regular. The flesh in the center of the fillet has actually preserved its color quite well.

 

Salted Char 5

I used the first fillet to make a small pot of chowder. As I mentioned, the flesh was a bit saltier than it should have been, but it was still perfectly edible. For the remaining fillet, I will give it another two or three hours soaking before trying it in some other

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