Pickled Salmon Recipe

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This is a classic in the Ashkenazi Jewish High Holiday kitchen. It’s not just about the sweet-salty-rich-yet-light salmon – it’s also about the briny pickled onions. Serve it with a chewy, dense bagel, heavy bialy, or a Miami-style onion pocket. If you make it for Passover, slice the salmon thin and long and drape it over matzo.


Pickled Salmon

Pickling Spices

  • 2½ tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2½ tablespoons whole allspice
  • 3 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons juniper berries
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled


  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pickling spices
  • 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1½ cups cold water
  • 1 vidalia maui or sweet onion, sliced ⅛ inch thick
  • 2 pounds wild salmon fillet, skin and bones removed
  • 6 bay leaves


  1. Combine the pickling spices in a small bowl.
  2. Heat the vinegar, sugars, pickling spices and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar and salt have dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Add 1½ cups cold water to the vinegar, and stir to combine.
  4. Pour the cooled pickling liquid into a large, wide airtight container. Add half of the onions, then the salmon. (The salmon should be completely submerged in the pickling liquid). Top with the remaining onions.
  5. Refrigerate salmon in the pickling liquid for 24 to 36 hours before serving. Salmon will keep covered and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks in pickling liquid.

Kitchen Tips

  1. Pickled fish isn’t particularly hard to make, but this dish is dependent on the quality of the fish. Choose the freshest, line-caught wild salmon you can find. It’s worth the price. If you can’t find top quality salmon, use mackerel, fresh herring, bluefish or even fresh sardines, but they must be very carefully filleted with all bones removed with fish tweezers or pliers.
  2. If you are don’t have the right spices but you have the fish, you can also use pickle juice.

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