Pickled Fish

Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum

Help Support Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Arctic Contributor
Oct 26, 2008
Reaction score
This is MY tried and true pickled fish recipe. I have made hundreds of gallons and it is foolproof.

I use primarily salmon but any fish will do. I prefer salt water fish to fresh. The "meatier" the fish the better. This is a good way to use up any fish you may have hiding in the freezer.

Fresh Salmon is my choice. (I tried octopus once. It turned out so rubbery you couldn't even cut it with a knife!)

Start with 4-5# fish. Filet them, remove skin and bones and cut into chunks 1" x 1" or so.

DO NOT USE METALLIC container in any steps in this recipe!

Mix up enough water and salt to cover the fish.(They say salty enough water to float an egg) You want it pretty salty. Soak the fish in this for 24 hours.

Remove and rinse very well several times.

Return the fish to your container, bucket, etc. and cover with straight vinegar and allow to sit for 24 hours. Then remove and rinse several times.Discard vinegar.

Set fish aside.

In a kettle combine 2 cups vinegar, 3/4 cup sugar, 4 bay leafs, about 3/4 cups pickling spice, 6 dried red peppers. Bring to a boil and allow to cool, not warm, let it COOL! Warm will make the fish mushy!!!!!!! You may need to double this brine to cover all the fish)

In a jar, layer fish, thin sliced onions, fish, thin sliced onions, and repeat till your jar is full.

Pour mixture over fish and refrigerate for about 5 days. It will last for several weeks.

Tis recipe can be tweaked, but the most important parts are the salt water soak and the vinegar soak. Don't change that.

This isn't the only recipe out there for pickled fish, but it is the one I have used succesfully many, many times. I use raw fish. There are some recipes that use cooked, but they suck, IMO.

I know there are ways to can pickled fish, but have zero clue how its done. If you are interested in canning it you are on your own.


If I can get it I really like to add some sprigs of fresh dill to the jars.
This sounds a lot like what old timers in eastern NC traditionally have done with herring especially before refrigeration was invented. Every spring herring migrate up the rivers and creeks along the East Coast to spawn. The 6-8" long fish are netted then gutted, decapitated, de-finned and placed in stoneware crocks with layers of coarse salt between. The salt water is changed several times and then the fish are allowed to pickle for up to a year. Prior to cooking, the fish are rinsed well in fresh water to remove the salt and then fried whole with the fish bones becoming crispy enough to eat as well. This is still a spring tradition along the Chowan and Roanoke Rivers of Eastern North Carolina. I can attest they're quite good, but a bit greasy.

Exactly Fred. I grew up, well till I was 13, in Milwaukee, and we always had pickled herring around at the holidays. Thats where I got my love of them. We use to get a type that had sour cream in the mix but don't and have never tried to make it.

We have hooligan(slat water fish) here which are a type of smelt, they call them candle fish, they are so oily the natives used to dry them and light them on fire for light. No sheet!

I like to take these, split them, brine them in secret stuff, and dehydrate them. Real good. I hope someone goes down to Kenai again this year and brings me back a slew.
I grew up around lots of jewish people so we were very accustomed to gefeltafish.
I love pickled fish. I always have some around the house somewhere.
Last edited:
i've really got to try this recipe but what is pickeling spice sid and can it be left out
Pickle spice is a combination of allspice, mustard seed, cloves ground pepper bay leaf.

It most certainly can be left out, but you will want something in there so be creative. Sliced lemon is also very good along with your sliced onions. And yes, you guessed it, a shot of dry white wine works well when added with the final liquid!! LOL

Not sure where you are there but you should beable to find "pickling spice" at your local market or grocery store. I was buying some a few years back that was from the UK. Ask where you buy your groceries! It is a pretty common spice mix.

This is a great recipe and will work for any fish. Give it a shot, I said i guarantee it, and I do.

Last edited:
This recipe is the same as I have been using for years and it is good! I found I really like to use this on northerns as well as herring, the northerns seem to be firmer then the herring. I get my herring ice fishing on Superior in March usually but this year the ice was very short term where I go so did not get the op to get many, three only but picked up six coho calmon so the grill has been going.
So is the pickled fish ready to eat? Or does it haved to be cooked ?.............Upper
Big it will work everytime. Guarantee it. Its good too.

You can use the same basic process for vegetables. Blanch them first. Then go with the salt soak, then the vingar soak, then what ever spices you like.

If you go with vegetables on the final brine, add some olive oil to the liquid. Actualy emulsify it. That is to say, putyour final brine in a cuisinart or blender and slowly add the oil, then pour the whole mess onto you vggies in the jar.
After you have put the fish in the jars do you do any process to finish the jars?
We can quite a bit of mullet around here, put the fillets in pint jars, raw and then pressure cook it for about 45 minutes.
If you like mullet, you'll like this. If you don't like mullet, then you won't.
I said in the original post.

I know nothing about canning or processing it.

I know that whatever fish you use, including mullet will work perfect forthe recipe I described.

This recipe is only assuming it will be refrigerated up until the time you eat it.

I am sorry, if you wish to preserve it by "canning"it you will have to ask further.I know it can be done, but I am not the one to ask.

let me know what you find out.
I know that mullet is a oily fish and that when they put them up in jars and then pressure cook them, the jars turn out looking like tuna in oil. I'ld have to look at the chart I have for the time but it could be as much as 45 minutes or more at 10 pounds pressure for pint jars.
Ask Allie or Julie. Those ladiesare pretty knowlegable about canning. I sure wish I knew the answer for you. No matter what I would personaly smoke it a bit or at least marinate it.

I do know,, smoking it wllhelp to draw out and eliminae some of the oils before the canning process.
this is kool ive been looking for differnt things to do with salmon.we can,deep fry,bake,now ill try this.my kids love the fish thanks vickie
Wow, I was about to post a recipe for pickled Hot Dogs and seen this post has had ove 18K hits!! LOL I am proud.

I just made a batch using Alaskan yellow eyed Rockfish and it was perfect as always.

I hope those who viewed have tried this. I found the oilier fish the better.
Thanks a lot friends for sharing your useful tips and suggestions it would be very helpful for newbies like me..
I have tried it already. We do it for all our life. it really goes good. thank you much,because I think all should know this recipe