Cold Spiced Salmon

Helen Brown, in her West Coast Cook Book (1952), calls pickled salmon “a pioneer’s escabeche.” Certainly brined or vinegared salmon was a standard preserving method with prospectors, just as smoking was with Indians. Seufert’s cannery put out a brand they called “Spiced Salmon.” “The product was delicious, although you either liked the pack or you didn’t,” Francis Seufert recalls. “I thought it was one of the best products ever put up.” In Alaska others agree, for I found in Cooking Alaskan a Pickled Salmon recipe contributed from Cordova, Alaska, that echoes Spanish escabeche and the pioneer pickling of Seufert’s. While Seufert’s brand contained bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, and a slice of lemon, Cordova, Alaska, prefers a sweet-sour mixture of white vinegar, brown sugar, and pickling spices, after brining. In the recipe below, I’ve chosen an escabeche of vinegar and oil, flavored with Seufert’s spices.

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  • ¾ cup white wine vinegar
  • cup olive oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 bay leaves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon each sea salt and whole mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon each whole cloves and black peppercorns
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 pounds boned and skinned salmon, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • optional: fresh coriander


Bring all ingredients but the fish to a boil in a saucepan and taste for seasoning. Put the salmon cubes in a glass bowl, pour the marinade over, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

When ready to serve, drain the salmon and serve on greens as a salad or a first course or in a bowl with toothpicks as an appetizer. If you like, sprinkle the cubes with a chopped herb such as coriander.