Gallery: Step Behind the Fish Counter at Shelsky's, Carroll Gardens' Smoked Fish Destination

Peter Shelsky, owner
Peter Shelsky, owner

Peter launched Shelsky's in June of 2011 on Smith Street in Carroll Gardens.

The counter
The counter

On weekdays, customers come in for sandwiches and supplies. On the weekends, a larger crowd shops for home brunches and afternoon snacks.

Smoked fish
Smoked fish

Shelsky's doesn't smoke fish themselves, instead relying on vendors like a Door County, WI fish house that smokes whitefish right after they're caught.

Bluefish salad
Bluefish salad

Shelsky's bluefish salad starts with some big filets and some raw fennel.

Chopping hazelnuts
Chopping hazelnuts

Hazelnuts come next.

Then some grinds of black pepper
Then some grinds of black pepper
Bluefish salad
Bluefish salad

Chopped smoked bluefish, fennel, orange slices, hazelnuts, and mayo all go into a smoky, salty, tangy, and crunchy mix.

Mixing it up
Mixing it up
Slinging salmon
Slinging salmon

Vincente starts to prep the house-cured kung pao salmon.

Kung pao salmon curing ingredients
Kung pao salmon curing ingredients

In addition to salt there's rice wine, Sichuan peppercorns, two types of chili bean paste, and allspice.

Pouring peppercorns
Pouring peppercorns

The spices are ground before mixing.

Sichuan salt
Sichuan salt

The peppercorn-spiked salt is mixed with rice wine and chili bean paste.

Cheesecloth
Cheesecloth

Cheesecloth goes down on the counter.

Some lemon
Some lemon

The fish rests on top and some lemon gets sprinkled on.

Salted salmon
Salted salmon

The cure is applied in a thick, even layer.

Wrapping the salmon
Wrapping the salmon

After salting, the salmon is wrapped and weighed down, then left to cure for several days.

Wrapped up tight
Wrapped up tight
Fishing for whitefish
Fishing for whitefish

Next up: making the Brooklyn Native sandwich with salmon, whitefish salad, and pickled herring.

Pulling meat from smoked whitefish
Pulling meat from smoked whitefish

Vincente removes the meat from the smoked whitefish for whitefish salad.

Pickled herring gets chopped up
Pickled herring gets chopped up
Whitefish
Whitefish

Shelsky's usually use smoked filets for the whitefish salad, but they were out of stock when I visited, so Vincente pulled meat from whole whitefish.

Peeling whitefish
Peeling whitefish
Mixing whitefish salad
Mixing whitefish salad
Bialys toasting
Bialys toasting

All sandwiches have the option of being served on bread, a bagel, or a bialy, like this garlic-crusted one going through the toaster. Not the best for your breath, but when you start with smoked fish already, why not?

Slicing salmon
Slicing salmon
Sandwich assembly
Sandwich assembly
The Brooklyn Native, almost complete.
The Brooklyn Native, almost complete.

The whitefish salad and salmon are joined by pickled herring and sour pickle slices on the Brooklyn Native.

The Brooklyn Native
The Brooklyn Native

Shelsky's uses the whitefish salad on a number of its sandwiches, including the Brooklyn Native, seen here.