Chef Eric of Locals Oyster Bar offers his advice on curing fish, shrimp and scallops at home before cooking. This should be done after you thaw frozen fish but before you cook. Curing helps retain the seafood’s texture and flavor and results in a more delicious final dish.
Curing your fish improves texture, flavor and post cooking moisture retention. Curing the skin side of the fish will encourage the cells to drop any excess moisture retained from ice packaging and result in a crispy ‘cracklin’ like skin.
We cure all of our skin-on fish with a 2:1 ratio of salt : white granulated sugar on both the skin and flesh side at ~2% of the fillet weight.
If you want to be exact, weigh the portion of fish you wish to cook (ideally in grams).
Multiply the total weight of the fillet by .02 to know how much salt:sugar mix to season with. It will look like a lot, but trust us – it’s right.
After you have cured your fillet, place it on a plate or tray, skin side up, with paper towels underneath, uncovered inside of your refrigerator. I recommend curing your fillet for as little as 1-2 hours or as much as 1-2 days.
When your fillet is cured it will become slightly tacky and develop a pellicle. This pellicle is what helps lock in natural juices during and after cooking and aids in caramelizing natural sugars giving you extra crispy texture and a golden brown color.
From here, you can cook using your favorite recipe.