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My wife comes from a culture where preparation and eating of dried fish is very common (as long as one takes the proper measures to deal with the smell). She prepared for me recently a serving of dried mackerel, but it was sooooo salty that I could only bear to eat one or two bites. Can anyone recommend some sort of preparation method to counteract this excessive salty flavor?

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Do you only want to eat it by itself? If you just want to experience the flavor, you could perhaps make dishes including it. – Jefromi Dec 11 '11 at 17:10
Generally speaking, by itself. However, I still have a good amount of that mackerel left, so I need to get rid of it somehow. – demongolem Dec 11 '11 at 17:13
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The standard way to cook salt cod for dishes where you want to really remove the saltiness, such as brandade, is to soak it (for hours) in a couple of changes of water, and then simmer it in milk for half an hour to an hour. This might work with the mackerel. Not sure what you'd use it for after that, though.

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+1 Dried mackerel should be great in brandade. – Henrik Söderlund Dec 12 '11 at 14:00
Brandade definitely goes beyond my kitchen experience, but it looks like it is worth a try. Thanks a bunch. – demongolem Dec 12 '11 at 15:44

Sprinkling a little lemon juice or vinegar on dried fish will mask the saltiness.

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Spiciness is always a great way to mask saltiness. If you like spicy food, try crushed red pepper flakes in boiling vegetable oil for a flavorless spicy addition to any food.

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As FuzzyChef indicates in his answer, the standard way is to soak in abundant cold water. The number of hours depends on the thickness of the piece. Some cod can be soaking for 48h with a change of water every 8-12h.

But, there is no need for simmering the fish in milk. You can use the fish as usual once the desired saltiness is reached.

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If you don't mind the texture you could rehydrate the fish by soaking it in water for at least an hour. You could add them to a soup as well or eat with rice to help dull the saltiness.

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I lived in Japan for eight years and have a Japanese wife. The reason the Japanese cook rice with no seasoning is because so many of the preserved foods they eat are so salty. I developed the habit years ago of eating large bowls of unseasoned rice along with small servings of salt preserved fish and vegetables. I might point out that the Japanese are among the longest lived people in the world so perhaps there is merit to this eating system.

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This is interesting, but it doesn't answer the question – SAJ14SAJ Dec 12 '13 at 0:39
Actually, if we accept that "add more water to an oversalted soup" is a good answer for other questions, I think that "serve it together with unseasoned rice" is a good answer to this one too. – rumtscho Dec 12 '13 at 1:22
Agreed, the question does kind of imply that the OP is trying to eat just the fish, but I think that pointing out that the best way to eat it is with bland things to dilute the salt is fair. – Jefromi Dec 12 '13 at 2:12

Soak it in starchy water for 4-5 hours

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