In ancient times, there were three fundamental methods of preserving fish: refrigeration on ice, salting, and pickling (or fermentation). In this lesson, we'll explore using ice and salting for preserving fish.
Keeping Fish on Ice
After delivery, fish should be cleaned, trimmed, and stored on crushed ice. Most whole fish with skin on can be stored directly in ice. Here are a few more tips:
- Fillets should not come in direct contact with ice to avoid damaging the flavor and texture of the flesh.
- There must be drainage openings in storage units so the fish does not soak in water
- Ice must be changed daily.
- Any fish that is held on ice for too long will lose flavor, and the flesh will lose its natural elasticity. Certain saltwater fish, such as brill, sole, and turbot, can be held for several days. Others, such as whiting, sardines, skate, and most freshwater fish, are too fragile to be held for a long time.
Preserving Fish with Salt
Salting has long been a popular method of preserving fish such as anchovies, eels, sardines, herring, tuna, and tuna eggs. Some fish, like cod, were typically salted and dried onboard ship. The baccalà, as it was known, was sold throughout Europe and the Mediterranean.
Salt cod must be soaked before cooking. To prepare salt cod for cooking:
- Rinse salt cod. Place in bowl, and cover with cold water.
- Let soak 48 hours, changing the water three times during soaking.
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