Aging / curing fish

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Panamapeet

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First a small disclaimer: I am far from a professional chef, and this is quite a long post. Any tips, tricks and constructive criticism are more than welcome!

I have done my first experiment with aging fish. I have looked around on the internet, but its difficult to find any clear and reliable explanation of techniques and the process behind aging fish, let alone much sharing of experiences by other people. So I would like to take this opportunity to share my (admittedly very limited) experience, and ask for any input the pro's on KKF may have.

My process started by buying the freshest fish I could find. This meant obtaining access to a wholesaler, and asking them for fish that was just killed. I ended up buying a kingfish (known in Japanese as hiramasa) farmed locally, that was super fresh and was stored without the guts.



One fresh looking kingfish




Red gills

I immediately started by drying the cavity of the fish and removing the scales. After, I filleted the fish by taking off its head (which turned into delicious grilled collars later that evening), leaving one side of the fish on the bone.




The filleted side turned into delicious fresh sashimi for the evening, while the part on the bone was prepared for aging by wrapping it in tea cloth. I placed the wrapped fish on a wire rack in my fridge, and attached a thermometer to monitor the temperature. The temperature remained between 1-3 degrees Celsius during the aging period (7 days).




Sashimi made on the day of the fish purchase




Fish before entering the fridge

Over the next week, I turned the fish every twelve hours and occasionally took the fish out of the fridge to check if there were any funky areas or weird smells.

After 7 days in the fridge, the fish looked like this when it was taken apart:




Straight out of the fridge, started incision on the tail


Top loin with a nice amount of fat


Side shot




Finished sashimi of 8 day aged kingfish




Close up of sashimi

The most important takeaways for me are:
  1. Aging this fish improved the flavor of the fattiest part (the belly) the most, and gave it a lot stronger flavor that lasted in the mouth for quite a while

  2. The texture of the top loin was greatly improved, and became more dense yet more tender as well

  3. The bloodline needs to be removed a bit more as it was a little bit dried out, or the fish needs to be aged whole to prevent this

  4. It is fine to keep fish in your fridge for 7 days (I was a little bit hesitant upon the first bite...)

  5. Next time I want to try aging the fish hanging up by its tail and preferably in a separate fridge.
Please share any experience you have with I am happy to hear your experiences with aging or curing fish!
 

ojisan

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Beautiful sashimis! I sometimes do aging for 2 or 3 days. And yes, it makes the flavor richer.

"Tsumoto-shiki Kyukyokuno Chinuki" (Tsumoto-method Ultimate Blood Removal) is booming in Japan. It's said that blood left in the fish makes bad smells over aging. Tsumoto-method push out all the blood from the fish using water and a hose.

You can find his videos on Youtube.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeRYlwTRUJGXC25hFbw2SoA/featured

I also use Pichitto sheet to remove more water from fish.
 

Panamapeet

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Beautiful sashimis! I sometimes do aging for 2 or 3 days. And yes, it makes the flavor richer.

"Tsumoto-shiki Kyukyokuno Chinuki" (Tsumoto-method Ultimate Blood Removal) is booming in Japan. It's said that blood left in the fish makes bad smells over aging. Tsumoto-method push out all the blood from the fish using water and a hose.

You can find his videos on Youtube.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeRYlwTRUJGXC25hFbw2SoA/featured

I also use Pichitto sheet to remove more water from fish.
Thanks, that is very interesting! I think getting fishermen to use this method will be quite a challenge, but it's worth a shot!

I am going to get some Pichitto sheets, those look interesting. I assume they make most sense to use on lean fish (i.e. not on toro or fatty fish like mackerel)? And you put the fish in for a couple hours, and then store until use?
 

ojisan

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Thanks, that is very interesting! I think getting fishermen to use this method will be quite a challenge, but it's worth a shot!

I am going to get some Pichitto sheets, those look interesting. I assume they make most sense to use on lean fish (i.e. not on toro or fatty fish like mackerel)? And you put the fish in for a couple hours, and then store until use?
I myself have never tried tsumoto-method (I cannot connect a hose to the tap), so I cannot tell details, however, some say you can apply the method to (dead) fish bought at the market, if it's fresh enough. You might try as well.

It's hard to tell how long and which one (there are some types with different strength) is the best. If you keep your fish wrapped too long, it's going to be something like "himono" (dried fish). Some does like wrapping for 2 hours, remove from the sheet, then store.
 

krx927

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Very interesting topic. So much said and written about aging meat, but do little about fish.
 

Nemo

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Although I have never been able to sample for myself, it is said that fish killed by ikejime age much better. You may wish to find a fishmonger who provides such fish.
 

Michi

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I recently dry-aged a side of salmon in an UMAi bag. Worked out fine. The fish came out a little different from normal gravlax, just a touch drier and more meaty. On the other hand, the result wasn't spectacularly different from gravlax, which makes me think that making gravlax the ordinary way is easier and cheaper. (The UMAi bags are expensive.)
 

Panamapeet

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I recently dry-aged a side of salmon in an UMAi bag. Worked out fine. The fish came out a little different from normal gravlax, just a touch drier and more meaty. On the other hand, the result wasn't spectacularly different from gravlax, which makes me think that making gravlax the ordinary way is easier and cheaper. (The UMAi bags are expensive.)
Interesting! Did you put any salt/sugar/herbs on the salmon and into the bag? I think a good approach may be to age a whole salmon, or at least a fillet that is still on the bone. Would be very interesting to see how it would keep for 7 days!
 

Boondocker

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I've started doing this in small amounts at work, after taking fish home every week to experiment at home. We've done American red snapper for a week, 2-3# yellowtail snappers that sold out on day 3. Currently have a beautiful farmed King salmon that I hung on Wednesday and will be doing some red grouper and more snapper starting tomorrow. Gotten to the point where our wholesale buyer and myself are grabbing the best looking fish out of each shipment to try hanging.

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Panamapeet

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I've started doing this in small amounts at work, after taking fish home every week to experiment at home. We've done American red snapper for a week, 2-3# yellowtail snappers that sold out on day 3. Currently have a beautiful farmed King salmon that I hung on Wednesday and will be doing some red grouper and more snapper starting tomorrow. Gotten to the point where our wholesale buyer and myself are grabbing the best looking fish out of each shipment to try hanging.

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Very cool, and thanks so much for sharing! Are there any particular things you noticed in the taste and texture of the fish? And how long have you been hanging them?
 

Boondocker

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Here's my experience with the red snapper. On day 4, took off one side and cooked it up. It was good! The flavor was very concentrated, but did not have a hint of old fish. The bloodline was still super vibrant. The skin curls right up as soon as it touches the hot oil, need a proper fish weight
 

Boondocker

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After 4 days the flavor was a bit more concentrated, skin was nice and dry. Curls like none other when it hits hot oil - needs a weight when cooking. After a week I was amazed how vibrant the bloodline still was. We sampled that half at 7 days and are enjoying that age. We are going to start trying smaller sections at a time so we can see how far we can push each fish
 

Panamapeet

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After 4 days the flavor was a bit more concentrated, skin was nice and dry. Curls like none other when it hits hot oil - needs a weight when cooking. After a week I was amazed how vibrant the bloodline still was. We sampled that half at 7 days and are enjoying that age. We are going to start trying smaller sections at a time so we can see how far we can push each fish
Very interesting! Please let me know if you develop any further thoughts!

I’m going to try to age some eels next week (if I can get any live ones). Plan is to run a wire through their spine and bleed them out, then hang them for a week I think!
 

Boondocker

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We are going to cut into the ora King next week and will be hanging some black Sea bass depending on how they look when they come in. My director of operations is working on getting some fun things from NZ to try out
 

Barry's Knives

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I advise aging the fish whole and thoroughly cleaned. Take out the eyes and the gills and make sure you don't knick the flesh when you are gutting/cleaning. This will allow the fish to age without just drying out and becoming too firm, whilst also making sure there are no old fish smells.
 

Boondocker

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A few ora shots from my co worker as I operated the fish. And a shot of a red grouper I scaled with my masamoto kk 330mm yanagi. It was a bit long for the fish hahaha. That photo of the grouper is on day 2, I'm going to cook it yup at home on Sunday which will be day 6.
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Boondocker

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Cross section of the red grouper after 7 days. Amazed how vibrant the bloodline still is and how much the skin puffs up when you sear it.

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22# Yellowedge grouper that arrived today. Funny thing, when I was finished scaling it my yanagi had developed a bur on the bevel side. I've heard some people claim that sukibiki on halibut actually sharpened their knife.

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Boondocker

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I don't know where I'm going to fit this copper river salmon that's arriving tomorrow. Guess I'll put together another metro rack

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Who can guess what hanging?
 

Boondocker

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Just launched our dry aged program publicly at my shop. Can't explain how exciting it is to have this project turn into something real.

330mm yanagi // big copper river King salmon I'm dry aging for next week

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Boondocker

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My selection for the weekend.
Copper river King day 5
NZ Sea Bream day 11
Yellowedge grouper day 12

Been a few years since I've broken down fish this big. I miss it
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