Here’s the recipe we’ve been using, but feel free to modify it to fit your tastes. We’ve salted fish for shorter and longer periods, used red and yellow onions, added garlic, hot peppers, etc. Have fun and experiment. We’d love to hear your ideas for pickled salmon!
1 to 2 lbs. FAS Coho Salmon (depending on how much you like pickled salmon!)
1 to 2 cups Kosher Salt (save 1.5 Tbs. for pickling mixture)
1 yellow onion, sliced into rings
3 to 4 garlic cloves, sliced
1.5 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
10 Tbs. sugar
3 Tbs. pickling spices
To start, skin the salmon fillets. Some people don't skin the fish until after they salt; I find the fish very difficult to skin at that point, so I just do it first. Pour a layer of salt on the bottom of a baking dish (or other vessel) large enough to hold all your fillets ( you can cut the fillets into smaller pieces if that will help them fit better). Cover the fish with another layer of salt - the goal here is to make sure all the fish is completely covered in salt.
Place your fish in the refrigerator for at least 2 days (NOTE: This is for Frozen-at-Sea salmon only - fresh salmon may contain parasites and since pickled fish is consumed raw, you need to be careful. FAS salmon is perfectly safe to eat raw due to the freezing process). You can salt for longer, up to 5 days, depending on your schedule.
When you're ready, rinse all the salt off the fish. Rinse the pan out, return the fish to the pan and cover with fresh, cold water - now you're going to soak the fish for 2 to 10 hours to remove more of the salt. We generally only soak for a couple of hours, but again you can go for longer if you need to (or if you want to experiment with different salt levels).
After you've salted and soaked your fish for the appropriate time, you're ready to pickle! Cut your fish into bite size pieces - don't worry about the bones, they essentially dissolve during the pickling. Or at least they seem to - let me know if you have a different experience! Layer the pieces of fish and sliced onions in a large mason jar (or really any appropriate jar or jars). Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, 1.5 Tbs. of salt, garlic and pickling spices and mix to dissolve salt and sugar. Pour the liquid over the fish, cover and let sit for 4 to 5 days. If you have willpower, pickled salmon will keep for 3 to 4 weeks - but I can't imagine it lasting that long in our house!
As with many recipes, feel free to experiment. I've used cider vinegar, red onions, pepper flakes... I'd love to hear your variations in the comment section below!