Try something different and learn to cure fish at home by preparing your own fish jerky with this curing recipe.
By Monte Burch
Learn how to preserve meat, fish, and game and create delicious smoked and cured foods. Whether you are a serious hunter or angler seeking to cure and smoke your harvest or a consumer simply looking to save money while creating delicious treats at home, The Ultimate Guide to Smoking Meat, Fish, and Game (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018) by Monte Burch can help you!
Many types of fish used for jerky are commonly salt cured before dehydrating. This salt cure can be a dry or a liquid variety. Homemade cures can be used, or a number of cures are also available in retail stores. The following are two traditional methods. For a brine cure, use 1/4 cup of fine pickling or canning salt to 2 cups of water. If this volume doesn’t cover the fish, prepare more brine following the same proportions of salt and water. This amount will brine 1 to 2 pounds of fish strips. Make sure the salt is thoroughly dissolved in the water, and then pour the brine over the strips. Use a glass container, cover, and place in the refrigerator for 48 hours. This salt curing not only draws out the moisture from the flesh, but it also aids in preservation and concentrates the amino acids.
You can also use a dry brine, allowing the dry salt to work into the meat and bring out the moisture. Place a thin layer of salt in a glass pan or dish. Apply a coating of salt to each fish strip and place in the pan. Layer the strips in the pan, making sure all strips are well coated with the salt. Cover the dish with plastic food wrap or a tight lid and place in a refrigerator for 48 hours.
In either case, remove the strips from the curing container, rinse under cold water, and pat dry. Now you’re ready to dry or dehydrate. Simple salting and drying doesn’t produce a very tasty fish jerky. To add taste, lightly coat the strips on both sides with soy sauce, Liquid Smoke, or Worcestershire sauce before drying.
You can also make a seasoning mix to add flavor to the fish strips. Above is a typical mix. Mix together and allow the mix to set overnight in an airtight container to blend the flavors. A pinch of powdered red pepper (or to suit) can be added to the mix if a hotter jerky is desired. Remove the strips from the original brine, rinse off the brine or salt, and pat dry. Coat the strips with the mix, and allow them to sit in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. Dry or dehydrate.
Canning or pickling salt is used to cure the fish into jerky.
The fish must be filleted and then cut into strips about 1/4-inch thick and 5 inches long. Panfish fillets can often be used whole. Pat the strips dry.
Although salt alone will cure the meat, adding brown sugar, spices, and other flavorings adds to the taste.
Make sure salt, sugar, and spices are well mixed.
Spread the cure and seasoning mixture over the fish strips, making sure they are all well covered.
Place a layer of the cure and seasoning mixture in the bottom of a nonmetallic bowl or pan, and layer the treated strips in place, adding additional cure and seasoning mix as needed. Cover and allow to cure in a refrigerator overnight.
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Photos courtesy of Skyhorse Publishing.