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.