Alaskan Seafood – Rosemary Cured Pollock with Tomatoes:
Curing fish is one of those strange cheffy things I’m only just learning how to do. Of course, I’ve eaten cured fish for ages – mostly in the form of gravadlax, which is salmon cured with dill, salt and sugar. But, it wasn’t until I noticed a growing trend in some of the UK’s finest seafood restaurants for ‘cured fish’ that I realised there might be more to this than a boxing day buffet dish.
While oily fish like salmon take well to an overnight or long cure, white fish like cod or pollack can be cured relatively quickly to improve the flavour and texture. I’m a huge fan of Nathan Outlaw and in his ‘British Seafood’ book, you’ll find a wealth of cured or salted white fish dishes. Here’s what he has to say about the curing processing in one of his other books, ‘Fish Kitchen’.
We do take care over curing our fish, often flavouring the salt with citrus zests and selected spices, as well as sugar or sometimes honey, to balance out the flavour so the salt isn’t as harsh.
Curing also allows us to make some of the less flavourful species taste special – by reducing the water content, which intensifies the flavour, and enhancing the cure with other flavourings. For example, pouting and coley are relatively bland fish but a salt cure flavoured with citrus zests takes them to another level. In general, I find the oilier fish tend to be better for curing, but the whiter varieties seem to take on more of the additional flavours.
Currently, my favourite fish to cure are bream, mackerel and the cod family, but we are constantly developing new cured dishes and these could change tomorrow! That’s why I love curing: the adventure is endless.
Nathan Outlaw – ‘Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen’
About time for me to have a go myself!
In fact, the pollock with a rosemary cure was inspired by Nathan’s recipe for Rosemary Cured Haddock with tomatoes and watercress, though when I tried an all-salt cure, I found the result too strong, even after 45 minutes of curing. My second attempt was more successful – the sugar and salt mix draws out a lot of liquid and adds a pleasant seasoning, intensified with rosemary. Leaving the fish to set for at least 30 minutes in the fridge helps to create a firm fillet with flaky meat. Tomatoes make a good ‘Italian Style’ accompaniment.
I served my Pollock on a bed of steamed spinach with a few baby roast potatoes. A perfect supper which worked really well with the frozen Alaskan Pollock.
All Alaskan seafood is wild, natural and sustainable – the fish enjoy the vast open space of the Northern Pacific Ocean. Pollock is a good sustainable substitute for cod which, depending on where it is caught may be on the MCS endangered list. It’s economical too and very healthy. Genuine Alaska Pollock is low in fat, carbohydrates and cholesterol, and is an excellent source of complete protein and minerals with 393 milligrammes of omega-3 fatty acids per 4-ounce serving.
I’ll continue to experiment with different fish curing techniques. I do find frozen fish can become a little watery when defrosted (although, you can cook Alaskan seafood straight from the freezer to help avoid that). This is an excellent way to enhance the flavour gently and improve the overall texture of the fish.
Disclosure: I was sent samples of Alaskan seafood and paid a fee to produce these recipes on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. All comments are editorially given.