From Gail’s Kitchen


As a kid growing up in Montreal, my family shared a rented country house in the Laurentians every summer with my maternal grandparents, Debbie and Sam Chodos. One of our favourite lunches featured my late bubby’s pickled salmon, the marinade for which I’ve figured out and tweaked over the years to get the flavours of those long-ago summers just right. And since I no longer purchase Atlantic salmon, I make it with locally farmed rainbow trout or wild Pacific salmon.


Makes 4 to 6 servings.


2 to 3 pounds rainbow trout or Pacific salmon filets, skin on
1½ cups white vinegar, preferably organic
2 cups water
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 small onion, quartered
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp pickling spice
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more if needed
3 bay leaves
1 large onion, halved and sliced


Rinse the fish in cold water and cut it into 2-inch pieces; set aside. In a large sauté pan or Dutch oven, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, ketchup, quartered onion, garlic, pickling spice, peppercorns, salt and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 15 minutes.


Keeping the liquid at a steady simmer, add the fish filets skin-side down in a single layer. Spoon some of the hot marinade over each piece. Simmer until the fish is just barely cooked through (still slightly opaque in the centre), about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness. Using a slotted spatula, carefully transfer the fish to a platter.  Discard the bay leaves.


Scatter one-half of the sliced onion over the bottom of a large, shallow, non-reactive container. Spoon some of the hot marinade over the onions. Gently transfer the fish to the container, placing the pieces skin-side up, in a single layer if possible. Insert the remaining onion slices in spaces between the fish. Pour the entire contents of the hot marinade evenly over the fish, making sure the onions are completely immersed in the liquid. Cover the container and refrigerate at least 24 hours.


Serve cold with some of the onions, marinade and spices spooned over top. The fish keeps well for about a week to 10 days in the fridge.