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How to Cure Fish

    What you’ll need

    Salt, sugar, acid, seasoningsSalt, sugar, acid, seasonings

    Nonreactive container (plastic, glass, or ceramic)Nonreactive container (plastic, glass, or ceramic)


    Curing is a type of food preservation, usually for meat or fish, that uses certain ingredients and techniques to reduce spoilage and inhibit the growth of dangerous microorganisms. The most common method of curing uses salt, and can be traced back to nearly 6000 BC, when salt cultivation was first discovered in China. There are several other curing methods, such as pickling, smoking, and marinating in an acidic liquid.

    Salt cure: Dry cures often mix salt, sugar, and other aromatics to draw out moisture from the fish and add concentrated flavor. Gravlax is an example of a dry cure. Fish cured in salt and sugar are usually ready in about 24 hours.

    Acid cure: Ceviche, originating in Peru and Ecuador, uses citrus juice, typically lime and orange, along with aromatics and salt to cure fish. The acid in the citrus denatures the proteins in the fish, effectively “cooking” it in the process, resulting in opaque fish with a firm texture. Ceviche is a quick cure, ready in 30 minutes or less.