Fermented fish provides a plethora of probiotic strains.

Nutrients says, “Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) consist of homo and hetero-lactic acid organisms, and are a broad category of bacteria, including Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, Lactococcus and Bifidobacterium, with the ability to produce lactate primarily from sugars. They are among the most commercially used bacteria today, contributing to yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir production, the pickling of vegetables, curing of fish, and many other traditional dishes around the world.”

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The Journal of Physiological Anthropology says, “It is now obvious that household and artisanal fermentation of cereals, dairy, vegetables, fish, seafood and meats were a significant part of ancestral dietary practices.”

Other findings are eye opening. “A fish sauce product is also a fermented food made from different raw materials such as fish and shellfish. It was found probiotic isolates such as Lactobacillus plantarumSaccharomyces cerevisiae and Staphylococcus arlettae. They possessed inhibitory effect against S. aureus and Listeria monocytogenes,” says the Journal of Animal Science and Technology

The International Journal of Microbiology says, “Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis and Leuconostoc citreum were specifically associated with (fermented) fish fillet and (fermented) minced fish.”

The Korean Journal For Food Science of Animal Resources  reported a study testing salted, fermented fish specifically looking for large amounts of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM). They found 169 different strains, most from the Bacillus genus. They reported, “The results of antibacterial activity for five indicators such as Escherichia coli O157:H7, Enterococcus faecalisSalmonella choleraesuisStaphylococcus aureus, and Listeria monocytogenes in the strains originating from the jeotgal showed that the antibacterial activity was not observed in the paper disc method and that 2 out of 10 strains did not show the inhibitory activity in the soft agar method, but the remaining 8 strains showed strong or excellent antibacterial effects.”

To make fermented fish, fill a pint sized mason jar with one serving of wild caught salmon, one small onion, a half of a tablespoon peppercorns, a half teaspoon of coriander (optimally seeds). two tablespoons mineral salt, a quarter cup of local honey (optional), five bay leaves, a half a teaspoon of dill seed, two tablespoons of whey and filtered water to fill. 

Cut up the onion and fish into bite size pieces. Add all the ingredients to a pint mason jar. 

To make whey, first make milk kefir or yogurt, fermented for 24 to 27 hours to be sure the lactose is digested and the casein is converted to paracasein, making it more digestible. To get more whey, ferment them at a higher temperature, usually 110 degrees. Pour the kefir or yogurt into an old cotton t-shirt or cheese cloth, tie it up and hang it from a cabinet knob over a bowl. The whey will drip out. If there is any lactose or casein undigested, it will be more milk colored.

Whey is protein, obtained in this manner, is a live food full of gentle probiotics. It is not to be confused with whey protein powders, sourced from the cheese industry after heating up the culture and dehydrating that whey into powder. Those are dead food. 


The whey assists in fermentation, pre-digesting the food. Salt does the same thing and is classified as wild fermentation. Using both in fish ferments are enough to ease anyone’s preconceived concerned with raw fish. 

Put the lid on the jars, sealing out air, and let sit for three to five days on the countertop, then move to the refrigerator. Take a pint jar for a complete protein rich lunch.

*Nourishing Plot is written by Becky Plotner, ND, traditional naturopath, CGP, D.PSc. who sees clients in Rossville, Georgia. She works as a Certified GAPS Practitioner who sees clients in her office, Skype and phone. She has been published in Wise Traditions, spoken at two Weston A. Price Conferences, Certified GAPS Practitioner Trainings, has been on many radio shows, television shows and writes for Nourishing Plot. Since her son was delivered from the effects of autism (Asperger’s syndrome), ADHD, bipolar disorder/manic depression, hypoglycemia and dyslexia, through food, she continued her education specializing in Leaky Gut and parasitology through Duke University, finishing with distinction. She is a Chapter Leader for The Weston A. Price Foundation. [email protected]

“GAPS™ and Gut and Psychology Syndrome™ are the trademark and copyright of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. The right of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Patent and Designs Act 1988.



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13 Responses to Fermented Fish, The Perfect Travel Food – GAPS Approved

  1. Ann Dyer says:

    I love this idea! I have been buying salted cod( baccala) can I use this instead? Is this already fermented or cured?

    • Ann Dyer says:

      I fermented cod but thought the texture was too soft. I like the salted cod better. I guess I could ferment that right?

  2. Anna says:

    What does it mean that it’s perfect travel food?

    • Becky Plotner says:

      Ha! I love your email address! Perfect travel food means you can travel with it easily, doesn’t require refrigeration.

  3. Frances says:

    I grew up with salt cod in NL, Canada. The fish was salted and dried on flakes. I wouldn’t call it fermented. Of course, due to over fishing by mostly European and East European fish factories off the Grand Banks of NL, there is a moratorium on cod fishing due to depleted stocks.

  4. After a few days on the shelf, how does this get stored? Is it good stored for long term, and at what temperature?

  5. Bria says:

    Could I use other types of fish too? My husband is a fisherman and we have a pretty steady stream of fresh trout and bass depending on the season.

  6. Lan Lan says:

    Hi, I have read that one can only use fresh fish for fermentation? Is this true? Is it impossible to ferment fish that’s once frozen?

    • Becky Plotner says:

      Fish that has been frozen is excellent to use. Most fish for purchase has been previously frozen, as that’s how it is properly treated. Fish goes bad in a few days. It is frozen on the boat right after being caught. Fish are packed in the underbelly of the boat, packed in ice, frozen.

  7. Shelly says:

    Hi Becky, I’m enjoying your GAPS stage by stage book. I’m assuming that the skin is left on the fish and any bones that might be in the piece of Frozen wild Sockey from Costco I’ll be using ? I would also like to say that when a recipe
    calls for several onions and bay leaves how is one to know what size? Bay leaves come in many sizes and so do onions; furthermore a small onion to one person isn’t the same to another person. OZ, Grams, or cups would be much more helpful. Shelly

  8. Shelly says:

    I made this and on the morning of the third day the contents of the whole pint jar was a thick milky white. I placed it in the fridge and have eaten a small bit of it. I’m still on the fence if I really like it well enough to keep eating it. Is this ferment supposed to turn white? Thanks, Shelly

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