When it comes to foraging, PLEASE do your homework by consulting experts and guidebooks to make sure you really know what you're picking. There are some resources listed on the right. I'm a hobbyist who is sharing her experiments. I think foraging is amazingly entertaining, and fun, and awesome, but I never pick/eat something I'm not sure of. It's difficult to resist picking something you're almost sure of, but you have to do it. Resist. Take pictures. Pick a sample. Go home and study up. And then if you're sure, go back and harvest. Here are some ethical foraging guidelines.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Put a Fish in It - Blueberry Pickled Salmon

As I mentioned in a previous post, reading through Plants That We Eat has been an interesting way to play with ideas for experiments. One short paragraph got me scheming. It included the sentence "Any meat or fat that is stored in blueberries will become pickled, developing a unique color and flavor within a few days to a week." You can read the whole section word for word in this post on a website called Edible East Bay - they failed to credit Anore Jones or Plants That We Eat, but it is literally exact copy.

I am still a little wary of going too far afield in experiments with foods that are jarred. I've read too many warnings about botulism. And since I have no real ability to test pH, I figured I would just go ahead and modify a standard pickled salmon recipe and go from there. Part of the impetus for this was that I don't really have a drying set-up for fish, and I figured the partial curing at the start of the process would help the salmon hold together for the pickling.

After reading several recipes, I decided to adapt the method and recipe provided by a woman by the name of Sandra Firestack who appears to be based out of Juneau.

Blueberry Pickled Salmon

Blueberry Pickled Salmon
The color is more beautiful in person, with a deep purple outlining the red sockeye.
1 & 1/2 lb sockeye salmon fillet - skin on
brown sugar
1 & 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp pickling spice
1 yellow onion

Rinse and pat dry salmon fillet. Place in rimmed container and cover fillet with salt ensuring all exposed meat is covered. Liberally sprinkle brown sugar over the top of the salt covering the fillet. Place in fridge and let sit for 24 hours. Rinse fillet off, skin, and slice into 1 inch by 2 inch pieces. You should be able to see the way that the salt has begun curing the salmon in the way that the color of the meat has changed. Fill a bowl with very cold water, place fish in the water, let sit for half an hour, change the water, and let sit for another half hour - total of 1 hour soak.

You can see the way that the pieces have been mostly cured through.
Lay out saran wrap, cover with a layer of paper towels. Once salmon has soaked, pull out the pieces and place them so that what used to be the skin-side is down.  This was a totally ingenious tip provided by Sandra!

Cutting block, saran wrap, paper towel, drying salmon.
Let the pieces air dry for an hour. While they're drying, heat up your vinegar, blueberries, sugar, and pickling spices. Mash the blueberries and stir till the pickling solution is thoroughly mixed. Let cool on the stove. Once fairly cool, place the whole pot in a bowl of ice water and stir until the mixture is 100% cooled.

Pickling solution having an ice-water bath.
Now every recipe I could find specified that the pickling solution must be cold. This is not a canned pickle, there is no hot-water bath, and as such, there is no shelf-life. This is essentially a refrigerator pickle and can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. But I still sterilized my jars and rings and warmed my lids so that the lid seal would be nice and gooey for when I tightened it all down. However I made sure the jars were nice and cool before packing.

I packed the jars with slices of yellow onion and layers of salmon. Halfway through I half filled the jars with pickling liquid so that I could make sure some of the actual blueberries (and not just their juice) would be distributed throughout the jar, then I filled them up, tightened down the lid and stuck em in the fridge. I started with the jars upside down (as suggested by many recipes), but sort of flipped them back and forth throughout the week. Not sure if this was helpful or just silly.

The top picture is us tasting the pickled salmon after a week of pickling. I imagine that the longer the pickle sits, the more the blueberry will penetrate the flesh.

But even now, this was REALLY good. Tart, a pickle tang, a little sweet, yummy salmon-y, with the texture of lox, and very pretty. I went with sockeye since that's what I had handy, but I also think sockeye is the right choice for this. As the second oiliest salmon, it can keep a good salmon flavor against other strong flavors, and honestly, I just couldn't bring myself to experiment with king. But I actually think the king might've been a little too salmon-y for this.

We had this on crackers with a sharp cheddar as well as plain, but I think this would be absolutely divine with goat cheese and crackers or with straight-up cream cheese.

This recipe made two perfect pint jars and I have to say, with blueberries still going strong here in Juneau, I think I'm probably going to make another batch.

1 comment:

  1. This looks fantastic! I have a few blueberries left from last year (ours in Anchorage are not quite ripe) so I might just try this. So cool!