When it comes to simple, straightforward cooking advice that really ups your kitchen game, Chef Lucas Sin is one of the best Instagram accounts you can follow. From simple roasted sweet potatoes to mapo lasagna, his account is full of solid techniques and delicious recipes, including multiple versions of tomato and egg soup.
His most recent post features a simple salt and sugar quick-cure, and it falls in to that first category, the solid techniques. It’s a basic, easy one that everyone should know, and it will make your fish — any fish — firmer and tastier. Sin picked up the technique in Japan where it is commonly used by sushi chefs, but that doesn’t mean you should think of it “only as a ‘sushi chef secret.’” “It’s tempting,” Sin explains in his post, “but the cliché would betray the fact that the technique is a culture + industry-wide standard practice.”
Sin can walk you through the process in the above video, but all you have to do is coat your piece of fish — including the skin side — in a heavy dusting of two parts salt and one part sugar, and wait 15 minutes. The salt and sugar will draw out excess water, giving your fish a firmer, bouncier texture, and more intense flavour.
Once the quarter hour of waiting has elapsed, rinse the fish off with cold water, pat dry with paper towels, and cook however you were planning on cooking it (omitting extra salt, of course). I tried this quick-cure with grocery store halibut and salmon fillets, and both were transformed into better versions of their soft, kind of squishy selves. After the cure (and rinse) I pan-fried both filets in a little butter, and each one came out firm and flavorful, with crispy, cracker-like skin. (Full disclosure: I used iodized table salt, and it still worked beautifully.)