Dried red meat, like biltong and droewors, is engrained in South African culture, but seafood is now also getting its chance to shine with dry-aged fish.
Biltong is a favourite snack for many South Africans, so one can be forgiven for assuming that dried fish, like bokkoms which is a dried fish delicacy from the West Coast, is already a thing. It isn’t.
Kurt Hill, co-owner of Cape Fish, which is the first company to offer the product in the country, says the process is actually complicated.
“Dry-aging does remove moisture from the fish but it still remains incredibly juicy and tender, with a mouth-watering flavour. You can’t compare it to fresh fish, and certainly not to bokkoms!” he said in a statement.
Hill explains removing moisture means there is an intensification of flavour as the fats develop and the “bad” proteins break down, “so it’s a cleaner cut of meat without the fishy smell that puts so many people off fish. He suggests adding dry fish to sushi, especially for nigiri and sashimi.
The last time foodies had a fishy moment was the announcement by Woolworths for their new product, Hake sausage or “hake wors” in October last year. Netizens were not impressed, sharing their concerns about the possible taste and smell of the fish sausages.
But dry-aged fish won’t necessarily have this problem. The curing and smoking process can take up to a few days to weeks depending on the controlled environment. The advantage for fish is the drying process maximises fish’s prime period from a few days to 20 or more. It also gives the opportunity to use the whole fish and not just parts of it.
The dry-aged fish can be prepared for dishes as it can be fried, steamed, braaied or even used for a fish curry as it is still tender and juicy.
Dry-aged fish is available for purchase on Cape Fish.
*Compiled by Sandisiwe Mbhele