Wet Salt-Cured Ling of Shetland Islands

Ark of taste
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This preservation method of curing ling has been surviving at least since 900AD on Shetland.
Due to the deep water where Ling lives ¬– approximately 100-1.000 Meters – fishermen need to stay out for weeks. That is the reason why ling requires to be salted in layers when on boats, to preserve them until they land on the one hand, and provide the fish with a good defence against seabirds hungry enough to take it away on the other. Ling is said to possess a better flavour than cod, a uniform thickness and long body that is convenient to the whole process.

Even though the cure remained popular in the Scottish diet well into the first half of the 20th century, it has seen a decline since then. In the areas where it was traditionally produced, it has survived, but not as a staple food mainly. The main threat is not represented by the vulnerability of the species – even though deep sea trawling is depleting its population –, but in a loss of knowledge coming with the uninterested young generation, not willing to take up their ancestors’ occupation.

The method of wet salt-curing is to de-head and split the fish open so it can be laid flat. Often they are filleted but the skin is left on. It is laid in coarse salt for one week as with the dry salt-cured ling, only this time they are only in the kiln for a few days. They require refrigerated storage and only keep around three months. They are normally sold vacuum packed as they cannot be left out like the dried version. This is a distinctive Scottish cure and very different from the Nordic stockfish.

Culinary Uses: rehydrate and desalinate the ling by covering with cold water and soak overnight, refreshing the water as you wish – some like it to remain very salty indeed. Bring to the boil in fresh water. Cover and allow to cool in the hot water.

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Territory

StateUnited Kingdom
Region

Scotland - Shetland

Production area:Shetland Islands

Other info

Categories

Fish, sea food and fish products

Nominated by:Catherine Brown