Salt is versatile by all means. It is mind-boggling to think of the numerous uses and benefits of salt.
Unfortunately, the current propaganda by some medical practitioners and researchers have labeled salt as the ‘villain’. Speaking of facts, salt is the savior. Life is almost impossible without salt.
As they say ‘excess of everything is bad’; the same goes for the consumption of salt. It is harmful when consumed more than the prescribed daily dosage. But, in the case of salt deficiency, the body cannot function properly. You will feel lethargic, dehydrated, and out of energy.
Apart from the benefits of salt for the human body through consumption, salt has many more uses too. Salt has been in use as a preservative since olden times. People used different ways to use salt for preserving food that could be used in tough times like travel, harsh weather, and war.
In this article, we will discuss the method of fish preservation through salting.
What is salting food preservation?
It is the process that enables food to last for several months by treating it with salt. The art of preserving food through salting has been prevalent since the times of the Phoenicians and Greeks.
The Romans further sophisticated this procedure. Salt, mixed with spices have been in use for food preservation in the countries lying near the coast of the Mediterranean since the time of Christ.
Salting food preservation is a simple process that stops the food from spoiling. Water is the main culprit in spoiling food. When moisture is completely removed from the food, spoiling is arrested. It may be mention-worthy here that drying the food by salting is always preferred over air-drying as the earlier ensures minimal changes in the food.
Now, do not take salt as some magical stuff having powers to stop food from getting spoiled. The salt simply helps in extracting moisture from the food, rendering it dry and minimizing the chances of spoilage.
How salt extracts the water?
Do you remember studying about osmosis back in your school science class? Osmosis is the transfer of water from one place to another, like from inside of the fish to outside.
When the liquid at both ends of a body or skin is of different concentrations, it travels through the body to the side with less liquid. This is called osmosis and this is how water is extracted from the food inhibiting the bacterial growth.
Salt cured fish:
As mentioned earlier, the practices of preserving fish for bleak days through salt curing and sun drying are very common at places near the shore since ancient times. Salt curing means preserving the flesh by applying salt to it and drawing out the moisture. The salt curing fish is more popular than sun drying as the later is not possible in colder areas and it greatly changes the properties of the food.
Salt curing is done with dry salt and is very close to pickling which involves using brine water solution for preservation. The fish becomes completely dry when salt-cured and needs to be soaked in potable water before cooking.
Advantages of salting fish:
By now, the curious being in you must be wondering why to go through the long and hard process of preserving fish through salting when you can preserve it in the freezer? Don’t think much; we have you covered here.
Now, nature has its own ways to deal with things and human beings have been using these methods since ages. Salt preservation is one of the natural methods of preserving food and it promises the best results.
The salt works in multiple ways when used for preserving fish. It draws the moisture out of the flesh which inhibits the decomposing process. Secondly, salt kills and stops the growth of the bacteria and microorganisms that may be involved in spoiling the fish.
When you freeze the fish, it can never retain its freshness and flavor. The flesh is stopped from decomposing and the bacterial growth is halted, but the meat loses its flavor completely. When the fish is preserved with salt curing, it becomes more flavorful.
The humans are designed to like and crave the flavor of salt. It not only helps in the proper functioning of the body but also brings out other subtle flavors of the food, making it delectable. Try salted fish recipe using cod with a mild dressing and you will realize how salt can amplify the flavors of otherwise bland meat.
How to dry-salt fish at home?
Follow these simple steps to dry salt fish at home.
- Clean and prepare the fish. Take out the guts and gills and wash it thoroughly in the water.
- Remove the scales if any.
- If the fish is of a big size, remove the thick meat from the middle. This ensures the salt can easily penetrate to the complete meat.
- Now, impregnate it with large-grained sea salt or Himalayan pink salt. Leave it in the layers of salt for at least two days.
- The next step is to air dry the fish. Beware of the unpleasant smell.
How to store dry fish at home?
Storing dried fish requires a little care. Make sure to store the product in a separate space from other foods so that no odor gets transferred. The ideal temperature should be +2 to +4 degrees. Ensure that the product doesn’t take up any moisture from the environment, therefore, keep it in a dry and cool place during high humidity days.
You can browse for some amazing salted dried fish recipes on the internet and reap the benefits of healthy meat. Next time your family asks for Chinese salted fish or salmon to cook for dinner, fret not, follow simple steps and have fish stored right in your pantry.