7.4.2 Salting


Salting is one of the oldest methods of preserving food. The science behind the salting is to remove water both from the fish and from the bacteria, in order to reduce bacterial activity, which reduce spoilage. The process of salting fish is influenced by weather, size and species of fish and the quality of salt used. Salted fish, if properly packed to protect it from excessive moisture, will not spoil for long time. The affinity of salt greatly reduce water content from fish generally called osmotic process.

Preparing the Fish

Fish should be gutted and beheaded as soon as possible after catching.
Remove the head by cutting it off after the operculum. Sharks can be beheaded after the gill slits. Fish which weigh a half kilo or less do not have to be beheaded but they should generally be gutted.

In gutting a fish, total gut must be removed including visceral parts.

All species of fish must be thoroughly bled by removing the gills and all blood vessels. Blood clots can cause discolouration, as well as bacterial infection which would make the fish unfit for eating.

The big fish must split in to half or quarter using clean knife. The basic idea behind this cutting is to separate only muscles form fish.

Salting process:

Fish may be salted in five basic ways
1. Kench Salting
2. Curing
3. Pickling
4. Brining
5. Marinading.

Kench Salting: After preparation the fish fillets must be grooved to increase surface area. the dry salt is commonly used to apply on fish. in some countries the fish are stored in boxes in layers along with salt, usually for a short time i.e., 5 to 12 hours.Normally kench salting is done with out boxes, the salt is generally rubbed on fish and are sundried. As this process removes water by dual action (osmosis and avaporation) the fish gets dry faster than other methods.

Curing: Curing is one of the oldest methods in southern india. the curing is of 2 types
1. Pot curing
2. Pit curing.

                    Pot curing: Usually the earthern pots are used in this method. First the innersurface of the pot is coverd with cooking oil or ghee. Some flavouring leaves are arranged like a layer upon the cooking oil layer. the salt and fish are arranged like layers, by placing the fish muscle side down removes the water swiftly. the pot is sealed for a month or fortnight, during this time the powder salt becomes into wet salt. after a specified time the fish are removed form the pot and sundried.

                  Pit curing: This method is common during the summer. Generally a pit is digged to store the fish along with salt. the fish and salt are arranged like layers on a mat of flavouring leaves. the pit is covered for 15 to 30 days, after that the fish are removed from pit and sundried.

Pickling: This is perhaps one of the tastiest methods of salting. Generally fish pieces are fried in oil to remove the water. Lot of condiments are used in this process to increase the flavour. Oil is the key ingredient in pickling. The cooking oil greatly increase the shelf life of the fish. The fish pieces, chillipower, salt, Condiments and oil are mixed thoroughly and stored in jars.

Brining: The word brine means the water with large amount of salt. The fish are immersed in brine, to remove the water from fish, after specified time the fish are removed from brine and sundried.

marinading: Marinading of two types

  1. Short term marinading
  2. Long term marinading.

                Short term marinading is a common method in our day to day life, to increase the flavour. Just before cooking the fish chunks are mixed with lemon or vinegar, termaric, chillipowder, salt, Condiments etc. this process may last for 30 to 60 minutes. this process tenderizes the fish muscle. The marinaded fish after cooking contains distinct falvour.
               Long term marinading is very simple method. the fish chunks are stored in a mixture of salt and vinegar. the chunks are removed and cooked when ever there is need.


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