Cured Patagonian tooth fish is an example of a cured, high fat fish. Salmon and mackerel are other examples. The Patagonian tooth fish, is also known as Chilean sea bass, although it is not a bass. The tooth fish is high in fat (as much as 14%) as it lives deep in the cold (-1 C – +2 C) antarctic ocean between Chile and Australia. It is being sustainably fished in relatively small quantities. Its prized meat is loved by cooks for the taste and for the fact the fish is difficult to overcook, due to the high fat content. It forms very nice flakes when done. As the Patagonian tooth fish is a predator and can become old, it is not recommended to eat the fish too often as it may contain some mercury. Here we describe the curing of this precious fish.
The art of making cured Patagonian tooth fish
The Patagonian tooth fish has snow-white raw meat. The dispersed fat makes it snow-white due to the light scattering. Here we selected a few pieces of deep frozen fish meat with on one side the skin on. For curing the high fat fish, we use equal and moderate amounts of salt and sugar. We used slightly tangy Vietnamese mint leaves mixed with dill as the herbs. The salt and sugar draw out moisture from the fish and reduce spoilage. At the same time the texture of the fish flesh becomes more firm. Two days is perfect to make this delicious, very smooth and almost creamy tasting fish. Serve on blini with some creme fraiche if you like and top it with caviar. You will feel like royalty!
a sharp cooks knife
- 1 lb 2 oz (500 g) (two) Patagonian tooth fish fillets with skin on
- 2.5 oz (70 g) coarse sea salt
- 2.5 oz (70 g) crystal sugar
- 1 cup washed Vietnamese mint leave tops
- 0.5 bunch washed dill weed
Instructions for the curing
Rinse the frozen fillets briefly and dry them with a kitchen towel
Prepare the curing mixture of salt and sugar
Place in an oblong deep dish a third of the salt mixture and also some dill weed and Vietnamese mint leaves.
Place skin down one fillet on the covered bottom
Spread one third of the curing mixtures as well as dill weed and Vietnamese mint leaves on top of the fillet
Place the other fillet on top, skin side up
Cover with remaining curing mixture and remaining herbs
Cover with plastic food wrap
Place in the fridge at 4 C for one day with a weight on
The next day turn the fish 'sandwich' and place the weight on for one more day
On the third day, remove the curing mixture. A quick rinse of the skin side is allowed, followed by drying with a clean towel
Place one fillet at the time with the skin down on a clean cutting board. With a sharp knife cut diagonal slices of the fish, carefully leave the skin untouched
Keep the fish cold until serving, within one day, Decorate with greens, small tomatoes or olives.
1. A cure of 24 – 48 hr is sufficient, even for thicker pieces. Turn at the least once in between. Weighting helps to draw out moist and improve contact between the fillets.
2. You can use other curing herbs: fennel fronds, ground dill- and fennel seeds. You can even think of using dry tea leaves! But always use the right amount of salt and sugar.