Preparation info

    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Cold-Smoking & Salt-Curing Meat, Fish, & Game

Cold-Smoking & Salt-Curing Meat, Fish, & Game

By A D Livingston

Published 2010

  • About

Method

In the recent past, very large quantities of dried fish were produced commercially in Scandinavia and Iceland, where the dry air and cool breeze made the process feasible on a large scale. Air-dried cod—called stockfish, from the Norwegian stokkfisk or Swedish torrfisk—provided the people of the Middle Ages with food, and was later shipped in large quantities to parts of Africa, where dried fish were preferred to salt fish (and still are in some places). Although refrigeration has hurt the stockfish trade, tons of cod are still air-dried commercially in Scandinavia each fall; Norway alone exports 50 million to 55 million pounds of stockfish to Africa in a year, according to A. J. McClane’s Encyclopedia of Fish Cookery.

Typically, those cod destined to be stockfish are merely gutted and hung out to dry on huge wooden racks. Of course, a few fish can be dried for home consumption without large racks; often, the gutted fish are hung under the eave of the house. The drying will take from 2 to 6 weeks, or even longer, depending on the weather and the size of the fish.

The dried fish become very hard, and they require lengthy soaking in fresh water before they become suitable for human consumption. A medieval recipe calls for boiling dried fish in ale, then shredding them and mixing in shredded dates, pears, and almonds. The mixture is reduced to a paste in a mortar and pestle, then shaped into patties, dusted with flour, dipped in a batter, and fried in hot oil.

Modern practitioners may prefer the following recipe.