Eat Good Food

Preserved Fish at SHED

Preserved fish play an important part in our recent Larder expansion at SHED.

With many of our wild fish populations being depleted due to unsustainable fishing and farming practices, pollution, and overconsumption, it’s more important than ever to make careful choices about the seafood we eat.

Among the most vulnerable populations are big fish such as salmon, tuna, swordfish, and sharks. Smaller species like sardines, anchovies, squid, and oysters are less endangered because they are more abundant, reproduce faster, and feed lower on the food chain. These smaller fish are also higher in omega-3 fatty acids and contain lower levels of mercury and other heavy metals than bigger fish.

We make a point of sourcing these smaller species as well as other sustainable seafood such as black cod, steelhead trout, and albacore tuna whenever we can, finding delicious ways to prepare and preserve them by salt-curing, smoking, conserving, and pickling.

Below are some of the current offerings in our Larder. We invite you to come visit our Healdsburg store to learn more.

Pickled Herring
Simply salted, then preserved in white wine vinegar with bay leaves, pickled herring can be enjoyed as part of your next smorgasbord. Suggested pairings include rye toasts, hard-boiled eggs, sliced red onion, freshly chopped dill, and horseradish cream sauce.

Marinated White Anchovies
Salted first to retain their firmness, fresh anchovies are marinated in vinegar, then drained and layered with sunflower oil, parsley, garlic, and bay. Also known as boquerones in Spain, these little morsels are sweet, firm, and tart. Often served as tapas with roasted peppers, they are just as delectable on their own with crusty bread. Best served at room temperature.

Smoked Black Cod
Also known as sablefish and actually unrelated to cod, this fish is found only in the North Pacific. Cured in salt with a little bit of sugar and then smoked over applewood, our preserved black cod has a rich, sweet, and buttery taste. It is delicious in salads or simply served with bread and whipped crème fraiche. You can also fold in olive oil and serve with chopped capers, onions, and parsley.

Albacore Tuna Conserva
Also known as tuna confit, our albacore is salted and then slowly poached in olive oil with aromatics until just pink inside. Wonderful in pasta dishes with pine nuts and lemon, or served with a garlicky aioli in tuna Niçoise.

Smoked McFarland Springs Trout
A sustainably raised freshwater trout that we salt and smoke over applewood, McFarland Springs smoked trout is a favorite of ours. We add it to salads, use it to make trout mousse spreads, and enjoy it as part of our fish platter with crème fraiche, pickled onions, and cornichons.

Bottarga
Often called the poor man’s caviar, bottarga is the Italian word for a dense cured fish roe made from tuna, gray mullet, or swordfish. Ours is made in the USA from mullet roe. Bottarga has a highly salty taste that can be compared to dried anchovies, but with a silkier texture. It keeps well stored in the refrigerator and a little goes a long way. Often grated sparingly in the manner of truffles over an omelette or pasta, bottarga can also be cut into very small wedges, sprinkled with lemon juice, and served as an appetizer.

Cured Steelhead Roe
Steelhead are a variety of trout that swim out to sea and return to their rivers of origin to spawn. Their eggs resemble scarlet salmon eggs, except that they are crisper and a deeper red. When fresh-cured, they explode and crunch in the mouth with lovely, ephemeral flavor. Easy to scoop over toast points and sour cream, the cured roe can also top smoked fish, or be added  to salads and pastas.

Brandade
This dish, known in Provence as brandade de morue, is a great example of how to elevate modest ingredients like salt cod and potatoes. We whip them with milk, olive oil, and garlic until luxuriously silky, and serve with house-made potato chips. Brandade can also be served as a spread with bread, or as an oven-warmed gratin.

Pickling, smoking, and curing seafood when in season and plentiful is one of the most rewarding ways to stock your pantry and larder. Learn more in our post on Preserving Fish.

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