If you go to a market looking for salmon, you’ll find basically two types – fresh and salted and probably more of the former than the latter. With great improvements in refrigeration technology and shipping, beginning in the 1950s, consumption of fresh salmon has been on the rise. Until that time, however, about the only salmon one would find in a market was salted. This was because of both the lack of adequate refrigeration and the seasonality of the salmon harvest. In addition to preserving the loads of salmon caught in the fall, however, salting and aging also had the effect of breaking protein down into amino acids and boosting umami. This was important because salmon preparing to spawn use their stores of fat and lose umami in the process. Salting and aging add umami back and produce a more flavorful fish. In the past, salted salmon was prepared by applying salt equal to at least 20% of the weight of the fish. This was to ensure the fish could be kept for a long period without spoiling. More recently, however, demand has shifted to salted salmon that is less salty.
This is called amakuchi shiojake (甘口塩鮭) and is made by soaking the fish in brine instead of rubbing the outside, and packing the inside, of the fish with salt.
Text by Kitchen Nippon