Sunday, March 28, 2010

Love is pickled fish

I do not like fish. I may force down some extra fresh hoisin salmon, eat fried halibut if it has soaked in milk and then dredged in some nice chickpea powder and has tons of tartar sauce, but otherwise I would happily eat a piece of chicken any day. My husband loves his seafood. When we visit our dear friends Dennis and Shirley, Dennis gets a twinkle in his eye and sets out the home pickled northern pike and Ben and he sit and chow down on a few pieces, grossing me out completely. Raw fish with bones in - "but it doesn't taste like fish" (right), "it isn't raw, it's pickled) (right), and "the bones dissolve so you don't feel them crunch". Ben talks about making his own pickled fish, but he doesn't fish himself and it isn't often he is offered fish from somebody else. Until a couple of months ago when dear friends sent us home with about 10 large ziplock bags full of walleye. It is mandatory to enjoy fish if you live in North Dakota because it is THE winter sport. Where I come from hockey is the winter sport, but here it is icefishing and come about the end of November, all of the check out boys at the grocery stores are talking about ice depth and why they wish it would get down to -30 because it will freeze ice about 3 new inches by the following weekend so they can go icefishing.
Back to the 10 bags of walleye. Well I wanted to unplug one of our 4 freezers (admittedly one is full of an older boar for dog food and the other is a clinic freezer), and the bags of fish seemed like the perfect thing to get rid of. So I thought, "I will make pickled fish for Ben and get it out of the freezer." It seemed like a gallon would keep him in pickled fish for a couple of months, so I got the ingredients, set the fish in salt and then went to visit Dennis and Shirley. When we got there, out came the quart jar of pickled fish and Dennis said to Shirley, "Mother, I think this is the same quart isn't it?" My eyebrows raised because the last time we got served pickled fish was about a year ago, and I was sure he would have eaten through a couple more quarts by then. I mentioned that I had done over a gallon and he burst out laughing and said, "That is a lot of pickled fish!" I made my second mistake and mentioned it was walleye and he said it was a shame to use such good fish in pickled fish. I consoled him by saying I had quite a few more bags left for him to eat. Then my third mistake was in telling him I'd left the fish in salt for 5 days, although I did put forth the argument that the internet told me I could leave fish in salt for months at a time if they were refrigerated. He gave me his recipe (I was waiting for that since we knew Ben liked it), and I went home to rinse the salt off the fish and get it into vinegar. When I rinsed the fish, they were rubbery and about as unappetizing as . . a piece of rubbery fish. I called Ben over because I didn't want to waste a gallon of vinegar and $4.00 worth of pickling spice if he thought they were no good. He said he was sure it would be okay, so I rinsed it some more and then covered it in vinegar for 24 hours. Ben cut the fish into small pieces and then I boiled the sugar (substituted sucanat), pickling spices (I was short 1/2 cup so made my own with bay, mustard seed, clove, cinnamon etc minus the anise which I did not have) and vinegar and covered the 1.5 gallons of rubbery white pieces with a pretty brownish substance (due to the sucanat) that actually smelled pretty good. I would definitely cut back on the sugar as it used an ungodly amount in my opinion. By the next evening, Ben was asking if it was done yet, and I reminded him that Dennis said it should sit for 7 days for best flavor. He made it three nights before cracking open it and gnawing on a rubbery piece of fish. I waited for the verdict (while he tried to convince me and Debra to eat some), and he said it was very good, even though it was not the same as Dennis' because of the cinnamon. But Emily ate a handful of it also and I have done my duty by the fish and the pickled fish loving husband. Definitely not high on my list of "good eats", but it prompted me to dig some of my chicken out and can some chicken for myself for salads.
Now I'm off to plant some glorious tomatoes since I have patiently waited for the end of March so they do not get root bound by the time I need to plant them outside.
If anybody would like to tell me how to post a picture, I would happily do so
Heather for the clan as well as the happy rooting pigs in their electric net

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi bet you thought no one was reading your blog!
I personally tasted some of the pickled Walleye and enjoyed it. Must be the Norwegian blood in me :>)
I guess Heather didn't get enough of those Norski genes!