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curing fish question

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Do you have to use sushi grade fish for curing? I'd like to hear that you can use any frozen fish in the markado but that would be too easy:(

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post #2 of 14

Are you talking about ceviche or pickling or smoking or canning? Curing covers a lot of bases!

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

All of the above actually. Just for these non-heat treated meat dishes; carpaccio, seviche, salt cured, sugar cured, and any others. more specifically; 1. does drying the meat (aided by salt or sugar at correct temp/humidity) deactivate pathogens? 2. does acids in lime reduce to safe levels pathogens in, say, frozen talapia? or the tenderloin of carpacchio?

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post #4 of 14

All of the ones you mentioned are various ways of preservation of foods. The processes used if done CORRECTLY render the food harmless to us. As well as canning.. Freezing only preserves while in that state..

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #5 of 14

Do you have to use sushi grade fish for curing?

 

No, you don't. But, as with most things, the fresher the fish you are using the better. Because freezing can affect the nature of cells, it's not always the best choice for curing/preservation.

 

I do think, however, you need to understand terms a little better. Carpaccio refers to a raw presentation, and steps must be taken against pathogen growth. Ceviche is a cooking method, in which acid, rather than heat, is used to change the nature of the cells. It is not a preservation method, and pathogens can grow just as if you'd cooked with heat.

 

Curing is a generic term used to describe various approaches to preserving and flavoring foods.

 

Pathogens are always present in food. The trick is to keep them to a tolerable level. At base, all food preservation consists of creating an environment that is non-conducive to pathogen growth. That's why refrigeration is the most common short-term method; it slows (but doesn't prevent) the growth of baddies.

 

Almost always curing means either removing water, replacing it with something else, or changing it's nature. Pressure canning is the only preservation method that doesn't do this. Among the methods:

 

Drying/smoking. The oldest forms of food preservation. Obviously this reduces the water to a level below that which will allow pathogen growth. Generally a long-term preservation method.

 

Fermentation. Creates chemical by-products (alcohol, acids) that both destroy pathogens and prevent their growth. Depending on what you start with, and the method used, fermentation can be either a relatively short-term preservation method or can preserve the food for two days longer than forever.

 

Salting and brining: Replaces the water with a saline solution that can destroy some pathogens and prevents the growth of all. Can be combined with other methods (i.e., salted foods can be smoked, for instance) and is generally a long-term method. Salting can slow, but not stop, the growth of molds.

 

Pickling. Often confused with fermentation, pickling consists of the creation or addition of acids to replace the water. Depending on method, pickling can be a short-, medium-, or long-term method.

 

Sugar curing. Prevents the growth of bacterial and viral organisms but not molds. Unless combined with other methods, sugar curing is a short-term preservation method. Sugar curing of proteins is almost always combined with salt curing.

 

Freezing: Lowers temperatures and maintains them below that condusive to pathogen growth. Generally a short-term method.

 

Pressure canning: Uses temperatures above the boiling point to 1. destroy pathogens and their toxins, and, 2. create an environment that disallows their growth. Pressure canning is used for short-, medium-, and long-term preservation.

 

One other thing to keep in mind: Pathogens are not the only spoilage mechanisms in food. Enzymes, for instance, can play a huge role. So, while any of the preservation methods render the food safe for human consumption, quality is another issue.

 


Edited by KYHeirloomer - 3/11/11 at 4:30am
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #6 of 14

Musta, of course you must always use very fresh fish, not only when curing fish, just always. If it smells like anything else than the sea, dump it! Also, just ask a good fishmonger how to recognize fresh fish.

There are however some recipes that suggest to first freeze fish before curing it, just to make sure parasites don't survive in your preparation. Salmon is one of them.

 

The word "curing" already says what you're about to do; to cure it! Any of the things KYH just mentioned are things that thousands of people already have tested and used to survive by preserving food.

It's not wrong to be careful, but, relax, have a little faith in good ingredient sources and methods.

 

BTW, if you want to see how I make gravad lax, here's the thread; http://www.cheftalk.com/forum/thread/63245/gravad-lax-slideshow 

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

Excellent guys. Your knowlege exceeds the www. I do have faith in the standard methods, I just like to understand the cooking processes in detail and have found it difficult to find info on this particular matter. Thanks for the clarification. I think I understand that the beginning quality of the meat or fish has a major effect on the end product.

 

So to recap; freezing fresh fish kills parasites, a good Idea when curing fresh fish. 

                    when sugar curing, end with smoke curing to impede fungus

                    its ok to eat raw beef as long as you trust your supplier

                    fermenting (turning water/carbon into alcohol/co2 internally with yeast solution) can preserve for a long, long time

                    to pressure can, you have to nuke food until the fibers turn to slush

                    the enzymes act, spoiling meat continuously so freshness is key (old products are ghoolish)

                   

one final question: what about those dangerous microorganisms that are said to be found in meats/fish which are reduced by heating? Is it a mystery with curing/cold cooking?             

 

                    

California Cook

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post #8 of 14

Chris, are you familiar with Emeril Lagasse's great one-liner about that? He says, "If the fish smells like fish, go for the lamb!" Pretty well sums it up.

 

freezing fresh fish kills parasites, a good Idea when curing fresh fish. 

                    when sugar curing, end with smoke curing to impede fungus

                    its ok to eat raw beef as long as you trust your supplier

                    fermenting (turning water/carbon into alcohol/co2 internally with yeast solution) can preserve for a long, long time

                    to pressure can, you have to nuke food until the fibers turn to slush

                    the enzymes act, spoiling meat continuously so freshness is key (old products are ghoolish)

 

Mustaroad, despite what the TV news people seem to think, there are many subjects that cannot be covered in one-line bites. Food preservation is one of those. But I'll take a shot at some of your comments:

 

when sugar curing, end with smoke curing to impede fungus. I think we need some definitions here, because I don't think we're using sugar curing the same way. As a preservative, sugar is used with fruits; the end result being jams, jellies, marmalades, etc. When used to preserve meats sugar is used, primarily, as a method of keeping the meat soft. Certainly it adds flavor. And there are cured meats that are intentionally sweet, such as "honey-cured" ham. But the sugar, in those cases, is not the preservative. Salt is. For instance, in my own cure for hams and bacons I add 5-6 pounds of brown sugar to 15 pounds of salt.

 

I am not aware of smoke being used as a fungicide. Although it does have some anti-microbial properties, smoke is used primarily for flavor. And even a smoked ham will develop surface mold, particularly after the secondary sweat in March.

 

its ok to eat raw beef as long as you trust your supplier

 

Well, sure.

 

fermenting (turning water/carbon into alcohol/co2 internally with yeast solution) can preserve for a long, long time

 

Yes and no. Using that form of fermentation produces a short term product (bread) and a long-term product (spirits). However, there's no simple answer. You can make wine that way, for instance. But wine is not the end product. What will last a long, long time, is vinegar, which is the next step. On the other hand, cheese, which uses fermentation to preserve milk, is a short-term use of the process.

     Conversely, salt fermentation, which produces lactic acid as the preservative, is more what we call pickling. For most Americans, sauerkraut and true dill pickles are the most familiar form of this. For long-term preservation such products must remain in their self-produced brine.

 

to pressure can, you have to nuke food until the fibers turn to slush

 

Not necessarily.

 

the enzymes act, spoiling meat continuously so freshness is key (old products are ghoolish)

 

While true this is a gross over-simplification. Enzymatic action can be controlled, and is part of many food preservation processes.

 

 

 

 

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

I'm a cooking newb and this info is sabroso. my first curing experiment is yet to come, but i think ill get some salmon and cure it in the fridge this week.

 

Im gonna try a french recipe with 6 hour curing with salt sugar peppercorns and corriander seeds and 6 hours after the cake is scraped off.

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post #10 of 14

Mustaroad, if you want more information about curing, salting or smoking,  I would recommend Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn's book Charcuterie.  This book goes into detail on the various preparations for preserving food.   

 

Here is the link to an earlier discussion on this subject:

 

http://www.cheftalk.com/forum/thread/61458/charcuterie

 

So far, I've only done the Fennel-Cured Salmon (Gravlax) and Fresh Bacon.  I don't own a smoker so with the bacon, I roasted the cured pork belly in a low oven for a couple of hours.

Each item turned out pretty good, but like most things practice makes perfect and I can see some things I would want to change.


 

post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 

I just looked up gravlax. It sounds similar to what im going to try out.

 

Im gonna do it with green beans. Hopefully one for

the record books.

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post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mustaroad View Post

I just looked up gravlax. It sounds similar to what im going to try out.

 

Im gonna do it with green beans. Hopefully one for

the record books.



Be extremely careful. There is a Luxury  Hotel down here called The Breakers . Years ago there was a big food poisining because Gravlax was not done or handled correctly..

 

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the warning Chefedb.

I think next time I'd skin the fillet just to be on the safe side (the recipe said not to remove the skin and the skin side was far less salinized).

California Cook

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post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mustaroad View Post

Thanks for the warning Chefedb.

I think next time I'd skin the fillet just to be on the safe side (the recipe said not to remove the skin and the skin side was far less salinized).


Be careful when you make it that it is completely salt and herb coated and weighed down by rocks or something heavy.
 

 

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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