Dry-aged fish – South Africa’s new delicacy

Cured red meat, like biltong and droewors, is entrenched in South African culture, but seafood now also gets a chance to shine with dry-aged fish.

Biltong is the favorite snack of many South Africans, so one can be forgiven for assuming that dried fish, like bokkoms which is a West Coast dried fish delicacy, is already a thing. This is not the case.

Kurt Hill, co-owner of Cape Fish, which is the first company to bring the product to the country, says the process is actually complicated.

“Dry aging strips the moisture from the fish, but it still remains incredibly juicy and tender, with mouth-watering flavor. You can’t compare it to fresh fish, and certainly not bokkoms! he said in a statement.

Hill explains that the removal of moisture means there’s an intensification of flavor as fat builds up and ‘bad’ proteins break down, “so it’s a cleaner cut of meat without the fishy smell that discourages so many people from eating fish. He suggests adding dried fish to sushi, especially for nigiri and sashimi.

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The last time foodies had a fishy moment was when Woolworths announced their new product, hake sausage or “hake wors” in October last year. Netizens were unimpressed, sharing concerns about the possible taste and smell of fish sausages.

But dry-aged fish won’t necessarily have this problem. The drying and smoking process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the controlled environment. The benefit to the fish is that the drying process maximizes the fish’s peak period from a few days to 20 or more. It also gives the option of using the whole fish and not just parts of it.

Dry aged fish can be prepared for dishes as it can be fried, steamed, braised 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

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