Once upon a time,…
fish was eaten raw but then people invented fire and they started eating it cooked, but somehow in between they got the wind of smoked and dried fish (not to be taken colloquially) and after that started experimenting with it to get some amazing preparations.
Preservation of fish has been an integral part among many fish eating communities in North- East India. Smoke-drying has been a unique way of preserving fish caught in fresh streams especially among the tribes in villages. Before preserving the fish, fresh-caught fishes are cleaned, debris are removed, guts, gills are removed.(most of the times they are not) and the skin is left intact. Usually a rack or shelf near the fireplace or above the fireplace is chosen as an appropriate place for smoke-drying fishes. These places are low in humidity and away from direct sun rays and the heat from the burning fire-woods while cooking foods below releases the temperature adequate for drying. The smokes from the fire woods adds flavour and it takes a long time more than a week or even a month to get the right dried texture Fat fish adds delicacy since they absorb more smoke flavour when kept above the fireplace.
Smoke-dry Fish Chutney in Paste form
- Scrap away and clean the scales, fins, remove the guts, gills and the stomach areas.
- Keep the dry fishes (if they are not so hard) for sometime in warm water or boil the fish in water for 2/3 minutes and throw away the water immediately after lightly rubbing them.
- In a mortar ( or a grinder), keep 5/6 pieces of ripe kon jolokia ( bird eye chilies) or alternatively half a part of bhoot jolokia ( king chily), salt, few pods of garlics.
- Roast a medium sized tomato till the skin is burnt properly. The tomatoes can also be roasted in a gas burner if coal or wood fire is unavailable.
- Together grind all the ingredients in a mortar ( or in a grinder if used) in semi-solid form.
- Sprinkle finely chopped onions and coriander leaves and mix it with the paste.
- The chutney is ready.
Smoke-dry Fish chutney in Dry form.
- Scrap away the scales, fins, guts and the stomach area properly with a small knife. Clean in running water by rubbing them softly. Avoid water to reach inside parts of the fish.
- Roast the cleaned dry fishes straight away on hot charcoal or in a gas burner. Roast them till they are dark brown. Keep them aside.
- With garlic, dry chilies and salt grind the roasted fish in a grinder or mortar-pestle.
- Add a uncooked mustard oil and there you are done!
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