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A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting several people from Moldova who were briefly living here in the USA. One of the fun things we did was a sort of "culinary exchange" where they'd cook several traditional Eastern European meals for us, and we'd do the same for my roommates and I (Filipino and Italian).

Anyway, one of the culinary items they introduced us to was Vobla, which is a salted and dried whole fish (called a Vobla, part of the Roach family) that is served with beer or occasionally vodka. I've been strangely hungry for it lately, but have been largely unable to find any recipe that gives decent measurements. I've been trying to translate the broken English on either expat forums or the results of Google translate but not making much progress.

http://expat.ru/forum/showthread.php?p=720551 http://www.shepotka.ru/recipe/fish/vobla/

For my first attempt, I found our local grocer carries Atlantic perch, which is a small, thick, lighter colored fish which is quite similar to roach. I only purchased 2 so there wouldn't be much waste if it didn't turn out.

For the first attempt at the brine, I used 600ml of 5% cider vinegar, about 5 crushed cloves of garlic, and about 2.5 tbsp of non-iodized table salt. I'm letting it brine for about 5 days, and then will be putting it in a dehydrator with no heat until the fish are almost crispy dry.

Does this seem like enough salt? I've seen other recipes state that you should keep whisking salt into the brine until it's saturated and no more will dissolve. At 2.5 tbsp there was still no problem getting more salt to dissolve, but I was concerned about over-salting.

Still other recipes recommended no brining, and instead just packing the fish in salt for a few days, and then sun drying.

Is there a "most correct" method for preparing the fish? What is the proper ratio for the brine?

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Where do you live? Most major cities in the US have at least one Russian market that imports prepared vobla. –  ESultanik Jul 9 at 20:15

1 Answer 1

What you tried is nowhere enough salt for the fish.

Both methods, drying it out in a bag of salt, and brining it in a saturated salt solution, are common. But this kind of high-salt brining is not similar to typical vegetable brining which is done with low-salt solutions.

When they say a "saturated" solution, they mean it. The Internet says that this happens at 35 to 40 g salt per 100 ml of water. I have never measured it, but it is obviously a lot more than your 5 g of salt per 600 ml.

There are also other ways of gauging the saltiness of your solution. I found a recipe with the directions to keep adding salt until a fresh egg or a cleaned potato floats on top. It also gave 48 hours as the brining time. This will probably have less salt than a saturated solution, but obviously, what you want is a very strong salt solution. I think that you can go with the actual saturated one (keep adding until some doesn't dissolve), it is unlikely to be an economic problem for you to add enough salt to saturate it.

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Darn, ok. At this point the fish has been brining for 2 days, should I just call it prepped and cook it so as not to waste it? Is it a wash? I doubt i can add the extra salt at this point. –  Matthew Jun 9 at 17:04
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@Matthew if you have been brining in 1% salt solution at room temperature, the fish is unsafe. One of the reasons for the high-salt brine is that you want it to literally suck out the cytoplasm of any bacteria venturing close to your jar. –  rumtscho Jun 10 at 22:27
    
This has been soaking in the refrigerator. I will toss the fish and see if they happen to have more at the store. Thank you! –  Matthew Jun 11 at 17:27

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