Introduction to Sausage Making – 10 – Challenges – Seafood and Other Perishables

Recipes: smoked Rocky Mountain trout, variations on seafood sausage recipes

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[…quoting Chuckwagon in a note to one of our users, “Texas Blonde Lady”] Hi Dee! Terrific question! The Duk is right. (OOOOOoooooo!) Recipes for fish sausages are a little scarce. Why? Seafood and fish are more susceptible to pathogenic and spoilable bacterial development than poultry, lamb, beef, and pork. Folks have heard horror stories about Scombroid and other types of poisoning and they believe they must have special “seafood savvy” to make noble seafood sausage. True, there are some risky possibilities if fish aren’t cleaned and handled properly, but outstanding seafood sausages may be made with a little know-how and some proper kitchen manners and protocol. Mainly, it is a matter of cleanliness, refrigeration, and prompt dispatch.

First, let’s take a look at some facts. Bacteria need moisture. And believe it or not, fish contain very little salt which of course, inhibits the growth of bacteria. Be aware that lean fish contains more water than does beef (60%), poultry (66%), and fatty fish (70%). Lean fish contain a whopping 80% water! Why is this a concern to us sausagemakers? It’s because during the process of making fish sausage, anaerobic bacteria are going to thrive in a warm area with plenty of moisture and little or no oxygen. Scombroid poisoning is a chief concern as well as a few other safety items. Although Scombroid (fish) poisoning is most commonly reported with mackerel, tuna, mahi-mahi, bonito, sardines, anchovies, and related species of fish that were inadequately refrigerated or preserved after being caught, other types of uncured and mishandled fish can produce toxic histamines.

Making Fish Sausage – If you wish to make “fresh” fish sausage, (not cured – not smoked), you might consider the following: First, eliminate the skin. The scales have collected and held bacteria. Toss the skin along with any bones. Second, add pork fat for flavor and consider adding lemon pepper or lemon zest to improve the taste. It is also acceptable to add any other type of fish to boost volume. Partially freeze the fish before grinding to facilitate clean cutting. Add any favorite binders such as bread crumbs, cooked rice, cornstarch, or flour. Again, this is a “fresh” type sausage without a curing agent. It may be stuffed into a casing only if it is going to be cooked to 145° F and used immediately. Remember that casings cut off oxygen as does smoke.

Smoking Fish – Dee, you live just north of Canyon Lake, the southernmost body of water in the USA containing “freshwater” trout. And trout make remarkable tasty treats when they are salted and smoked. Forget grinding and casing and try some delicious smoked fish! Now I’m just a land-locked cow-critter-sitter, but I fish a lot and I’ve been safely smoking the stuff all my life because I follow the rules of the USDA (MID) FSIS. When oxygen is cut off by smoke and the temperature is anywhere between 40° and 140° F, anaerobic bacteria thrive and present a risk. We must use sodium nitrite in a curing brine to curb pathogenic bacteria. Just as casings cut off oxygen, so does any “overnight curing” covered with plastic wrap inside a refrigerator. Here, we must remember the first rule of sausage making: Don’t smoke it if you can’t cure it! (“Cure” meaning the use of actual cures of sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite). Making a curing brine with specific amounts of salt and “pink salt” (Sodium nitrite), is simple. It’s just a matter of measuring out a bit of curing salt by weight on a scale, and then adding it to a specific amount of water. Nothing could be easier. The fish are soaked in the solution for a specific amount of time (usually only a few hours), and then dried and smoked.

Please see the recipe here: http://sausageswest.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Rocky-Mountain-Trout.pdf

Fish In The Great Salt Lake? – Okay Dee, it is rumored by certain half-smilin’ and truth-stretching local desperados, that huge, seven foot, Great Salt Lake Nocturnal Tuna Fish roam freely about the shores of Antelope Island on warm nights with a full moon shining. Walking upright upon their tail fins about midnight, these critters have been known to audibly replicate and mimic shouting cowboys with drawn-out, bone-chillin’, high-pitched screams of “yoo-taw”… “yoo-taw”! Yes, yes… so often does this rare nerve-rattling phenomenon occur, that the Salt Lake Tuna has become known as the Yoo-Taw Tuna Fish. And that’s not all! It seems there is so much salt in the lake that the fish are no longer able to submerge. In fact, their hides have become so toughened by all that salty saline solution, that they’re very much in demand as “fish leather”… giving all the bulls and cows out here, fits of jealousy!

Best Wishes, Chuckwagon

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Variations on Seafood Sausage Recipes – What follows is a compilation of three or so similar seafood sausage recipes found various places, shuffled together, and “tuned” a bit. I confess that, as of this writing, we have not tried this recipe. However, it looks good, so… why not?

Note the egg whites- –  they bind the rest of the ingredients together. Seeing as how the proteins in seafood are completely different from those in pork or beef sausages, “mixing to a primary bind” just doesn’t happen.

Variations on Seafood Sausage Recipes

NOTE to SausagesWest.com users: We have not yet tested this recipe. Any sausages made with seafood and eggs or cream MUST be kept cold, and should be cooked and used as soon as possible.

Several sources offer slight variations on the same recipe Here’s a compilation from:

Substitute the catch of the day and any shellfish (except oysters), for the seafood component.

Seafood:

  • 1 Ib. fish, boned and skinned, 1-inch pieces
  • ½ lb fish, boned and skinned, ¼ inch pieces
  • 1 cup ( ¼ lb) scallops in ¼ inch cubes
  • 1 cup ( ¼ lb) shrimp, crab, lobster, or cooked clams cut into ¼ inch pieces.

Egg, Dairy:

  • 2 egg whites, chilled
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled

Spices:

  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp fine-ground white or green or black pepper
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg (optional)

Herbs:

  • 2 Tbsp fresh (2 tsp dried) of one of: tarragon, chervil, lemon grass, rosemary

or:

  • 1 tsp fresh Thyme ( ½ tsp dried)

Other additives:

  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms
  • 3 tsp minced green onion

or:

  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • or:
  • (leave out entirely)

Extra seasonings

  • Dash of Pernod, sherry, white wine or Worcestershire sauce.

Chill the food processor blade, bowl, and a 4 quart bowl. Prepare and refrigerate the fish, etc. Freeze the larger fish cubes for 15 minutes. Grind the partially frozen large fish chunks in the processor until smooth. Blend in the egg whites. Add the cream bit by bit, then blend in the herbs and spices.

Move ground fish into the cold bowl and stir in the rest of the fish, seafood, and extra additives. Poach a small ball in a bag or plastic wrap, in 180 degF (just below simmer) hot water. Taste test seasonings.

Stuff the sausage into sheep casings or use plastic bags to roll dime-size diameter sausages. Poach for 15 to 20 minutes. Fish changes color when it’s done. Serve immediately. These keep for 3 days, refrigerated, but unfortunately don’t freeze well.

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