Sylt fisk med Rödlöken

This is a recipe inspired by medieval food preparation but with significant deviations, and was served as part of the feast at Ymir 2008.

Preserved fish were important to the Norse, and I really wanted to make them a part of this feast.  The most common form of preservation was salting and drying, however, I had no hope of convincing the average feast-goer to eat salted cod.  I thought of a recipe from the Harpestraang manuscript for The Lord’s Salt which preserves meat in vinegar and spices.

I also found other recipes for fish with salt and vinegar, including one from Forme of Cury that I believe was meant more as a marinade than a preservative, and one from Martino that is preservative:  “To prepare carpione of trout as you would cook a carpione, clean the trout well and gut them, then pierce them in many places all over with thepoint of a knife.  Then make a brine with equal parts of water andvinegar, adding plenty of salt which you must dissolve thouroughy; and put the trout in for half a day or more.  And when this is done, transfer them to a table, putting them under a weight for three or four hours, and fry them well in plenty of good oil, so that they are nicely cooked but not burnt.  You can keep these trout for a month, refrying them if you like, and preparing them again as you would a carpione.” (Martino in Redon)

These recipes are very complicated, however, and I wanted a simple dish that would highlight the preserved fish, so my actual recipe was closer to a ceviche without citrus.

For this dish, I have used either cider or red wine vinegar.  Overall, I prefer the cider vinegar – an alegar would probably be the most appropriate choice, or else whey fermentation rather than an applied vinegar.

Pickled Fish with Onions


  • 2 lbs tilapia filets

  • 1/3 cup + 2 tbs kosher salt

  • Red wine vinegar (quantity varies based on container size)

  • 2 lbs sliced onions

  • 2 tbs dried dill


  • Take tilapia fillets and cut into serving-size pieces.
  • Mix salt with 1 cup vinegar, pour over fish. Add additional vinegar to cover fish completely.
  • Allow to marinate in refrigerator for 1-2 days – the fish will “cook” in the vinegar.
  • Drain vinegar and rinse fish in fresh water.
  • Add onions and dill (distribute as evenly as possible around fish).
  • Add water to cover and allow to marinate in refrigerator overnight – the water draws some of the excess salt and vinegar out of the preserved fish and allows the flavors to mingle.


Friedman, David. Cariadoc’s Miscellany. Accessed 19 Mar. 2020.
Hieatt, Constance B., and Sharon Butler. Curye on Inglysch: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth Century (Including the Forme of Cury). Early English Text Society, 2013.
Redon, Odile, et al. The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes From France and Italy. Translated by Edward Schneider, University of Chicago Press, 2000.

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