Drying: Fish and other Seafoods

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About
Plain dried fish, prepared without salt, has been superseded by salted, dried fish, or fish preserved in other ways, in many parts of the world where it was formerly usual. In N. Europe, where the climate allows simple air-drying, it continues in use alongside combined salting and drying. Only white fish, whose flesh is not oily, are suitable for either process and, for drying without salt, they have to be fairly small.

In ancient Egypt, classical Greece, and the Near East salt was readily obtainable, and fish was salted to dry it from early times, as well as being preserved in brine. In medieval Europe stockfish was a major food, and was the subject of considerable trade. The name, originally a German word, was a general one for any dried white fish, most often cod, but also pollack, whiting, hake, and others. These might be dried with or without salt, although the modern usage of the term ‘stockfish’ is for an unsalted kind only. salt cod is the prime example of the salted kind.