Raw Salmon Sushi Bar Style

Salmon is not a fish that should be consumed raw. Although, when not smoked, it appears to be raw in sushi bars, in reality it is (or should be!) subjected to a light cure using salt and rice vinegar.

Done once, this recipe is easy to do again, and should always be employed for “raw” salmon preparations. The original recipe was for a larger amount of salmon (down from 3 whole fish), but this version is as small as can be and still be easy to put together. You may not need all the curing mixture.


For 1 1/2 pounds salmon, boned and skinned:

3/4 cup Diamond Crystal Kosher salt (or other large grained salt)
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup rice vinegar
Water for rinsing


Mix the salt and sugar together.

Coat the salmon evenly with the salt/sugar mixture. It need not be thick, but it must cover all of the fish.

Place in a non-reactive dish and cover so the cure is not disturbed, and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours. If the piece of salmon is less than 1 1/2 pounds, do it for 1 1/2 hours.

After the required time, rinse the salmon well under running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Rinse out the dish the salmon was in and dry.

Put the salmon in the dish and pour the vinegar over the salmon. Move the fish around and be sure to wet the entire piece of fish with the vinegar. Pour off the vinegar. Allow the fish to “marinate” 15 minutes (10 minutes for leaner salmon). Rinse the fish off and pat dry.

Put in the refrigerator uncovered for 1/2 hour.

Salmon is now ready for use.

Chef’s Notes:
If you are too aggressive with the vinegar (remember to drain off any extra vinegar from the pan) or the salmon sits directly under the air flow of the refrigerator, a pellicle may develop on the salmon. This is a discoloration (typically white or a distinct lightening) and toughening of the surface of the flesh. It is not harmful, but it is not pleasing to eat and is unpleasant looking. Use your sharpest knife to pare away the pellicle, using long strokes. As you do this a few times you will develop a sense of how long to do the vinegar wash for, and how long is “too long” with the salt and sugar cure.

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