Fermenting Raw Fish

Although today most sushi is made from cooked food with vinegar added, sushi was originally fermented. In fact, the word "sushi" means "sour", which refers to its origins as a fermented food just like "sauer" in German means "sour", and refers to foods that were fermented like sauerkraut. Scandinavian sturstromming is a fermented fish.

Fish left to sour or ferment for long periods of time will have a strong smell, which is usually unacceptable to western tastes. But thin slices of fish can be fermented for short periods of time, such as overnight in a refrigerator, and will still have all the nutrients from the fish, along with the added ease of digestion and utilization that fermentation brings, missing only some of the more complex acids that need more time to develop.

Try to eat some raw, fermented fish every week, even if only a small amount. Add salt, garlic, parsley and olive oil and/or raw vinegar to enhance the taste and texture.

Take some liquid from your last batch of sauerkraut and put it in a clean glass jar.

Use wild caught fish. If packaged, read the label. The only ingredient should be fish, and it should be caught in open water. These inexpensive frozen fish fillets bought at the supermarket were caught in the North Atlantic. They can usually be found at the bottom of the freezer compartment but you may have to scrounge around to look for it.

Chop fish into smaller, bite-sized pieces and put in sauerkraut liquid. 

Add enough water to cover the fish.

Add some already-prepared sauerkraut or chopped onion, garlic, carrots and cabbage. [Optional: small piece or flake of crushed red pepper or ginger.]     


Cover the jar with an airlock so that nothing can get in, but gas can escape.

Let it sit at room temperature overnight and then transfer to refrigerator.

 Issue: raw fermented fish and botulism 

Fermented fish has been associated rarely with cases of botulism. To cause botulism, food must be in an anaerobic (without oxygen) environment for a prolonged period of time, either months or years. It probably takes modern canning methods to achieve this result. To avoid any risk, leave the fermenting fish at room temperature no longer than overnight, or leave it in the refrigerator as you would a marinated meat.
 Raw Fish and Rice 

Once upon a time, sushi was fermented fish, but now it is made with raw fish and vinegar. Here is an adapted recipe for making a sushi alternative using fermented fish.

Make fermented fish as above, adding some kombucha or raw apple cider vinegar to the sauerkraut juice.
Meanwhile, put a cup of brown rice in a glass jar and cover with water.
Let it soak for a day.
Drain off water, and then rinse again with water and drain.
Put rice in a rice steamer and cover with bone broth at a ratio of about 2 parts bone broth to 1 part rice and steam until cooked.
Next day, check the rice and add more bone broth if it appears dry.
Add some pepper, sea salt and naturally fermented soy sauce to taste.
Turn on the steamer or re-heat the rice in a saucepan, stirring occasionally.
When rice is hot, remove from heat and place in serving bowls or plate.
When rice has cooled down so that it is still hot, but not so hot that it is painful to touch, scoop the fermented fish out of the jar and mix it in with hot rice.
Add butter or wasabi paste (horseradish powder) to taste.

Actual sushi, which I have not made, was made by boiling the rice, packing the raw fish in salt and then packing it in the boiled rice and letting it set for 3 months.

The Fish That We Eat by Anore Jones. (This is a link to a pdf document that contains the entire 345-page book.).
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. 
Truly Cultured Rejuvenating Taste, Health and Community With Naturally Fermented Foods
Food Enzymes for Health & Longevity by Dr.Edward Howell

My eBooks


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