Lacto-Fermented Fish

That’s right.  I went jiggy this time.  When I first considered this part of me was a little grossed out.  I remember when I was living in Sweden the jokes everyone made about cans of fermented fish exploding and how nasty the smell was.  And yet for some reason when I ran across the Nourishing Traditions recipe for fermented fish I just had to try it.

I’ve long been a big fan of pickled herring and adore seafood of any kind so this wasn’t a huge stretch for me but it was a huge leap of faith.  Would you eat fish that had sat out on the counter for 24 hours?  Normally I would not but I have developed an amazing sense of trust in Sally Fallon so when she says it’s ok to eat something I’m willing to give it a gander.  I’m referring to the book Nourishing Traditions by Sallon Fallon where this recipe hails.  It’s not at all fishy or vinegary and has mellowed remarkably over the course of a week.  It’s the perfect mid morning snack with some homemade crackers or rye bread too.

I used Loki salmon fillets which have pre-frozen so as not to worry about any parasites since this fish is not heated, it is fermented.  That’s right.  Fermented.  Because the salmon fillets are already boned all you need to do is a quick skinning and you’ve got a fast barbecue, pan seared or fried meal on the table in minutes.  They thaw quickly when the package is submerged in cold water and you can throw a 20 minute salmon chowder together.  Can you tell I love having these on hand?

Once the garden is planted I plan to take advantage of the first of the season dill and leeks and make some salmon sausages and patties to freeze for quick barbecued spring dinners so if this fermented fish trip doesn’t float your boat stick around and something fishy is sure to move you during the month of April.

Fermented Salmon adapted from Nourishing Traditions

    1 pound salmon fillet, skinned and cut into bite sized pieces
    1 cup filtered water
    1/8 cup uncooked whey
    1 tablespoon honey
    1 tablespoon sea salt
    2 slices of lemon
    1 bunch freshly snipped dill
    2 bay leaves
    8 crushed black peppercorns
    2 crushed whole allspice corns


Combine the water through the salt
Pack the fish and herbs into a clean quart sized jar.  Pour the liquid mixture over the top of the fish, being sure the fish is completely submerged in liquid.  Add more water to cover if necessary.  Be sure there is at least an inch of headspace at the top of the jar because fermented foods will bubble.  Cover the jar tightly and keep it at room temperature for 24 hours before putting it in the refrigerator.  The fish will keep for 2 weeks.

Not only do you get all the health benefits of eating fish with this handy snack but you also get all the probiotics that lacto-fermentation has to offer.  This snack is tasty, convenient and good for you.  I hope you muster up the nerve to try it!

12 Responses to Lacto-Fermented Fish

  1. This is definitely a recipe I’ve been wanting to try! I’m glad to hear that you like it.

  2. What is uncooked whey? I usually use whey from homemade yogurt for lacto-fermenting, so I know that’s been cooked…

    Thanks! :-)

  3. Hi Kimber, you can drain the whey off your organic, plain yogurt and use it. Cooked whey would be from making cheese that’s been heated to over 115. At that point many of the good bacteria that preserve food would have been killed off and I wouldn’t trust it any longer.

  4. that looks amazing! I will have to give it a try…

  5. Hi Dylan, I now it sounds strange but it tasted really good. And I did eat it and am here to tell the tale. ;p

    To get whey you can simply pour the watery liquid off your yogurt as it separates.

  6. Would this same concept work with beef?

  7. Hi Joey,

    I’ve actually wondered that myself. I know they used to ferment meat as well as fish, and that is where corned beef got it’s origins. You may want to try and google for it. If you find anything I’d love to hear about it – I have a book by my bedside about how the men in the Lewis and Clark expedition prepared food and what they ate but I haven’t made it very far though it.

    I do also virtually know a food historian that I can email so if I find anything out I’ll post another comment here. Good question!

  8. is the fish cooked after it’s fermented?

  9. Joey he replied that they used salt brine when curing meats back then so I don’t honestly know.

    Siegried, it is not. And I didn’t get sick!

  10. AWesome! I look forward to exploring this avenue… that is, Fermented Meat Ave.

  11. Pingback: Get inspired to make fermented foods | Real Food Suomi

  12. Pingback: Get inspired to make fermented foods

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

nine − = 2

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>