Taste of winter: dried salted fish
Xia Yingfa sprinkles salt on cleaned fish. [Photo/ntjoy.com]
Winter is the perfect time for residents of the Tiansheng port area in Nantong to make dried salted fish. To local fishermen, it is not only a delicacy, but also recalls memories from the area's history.
"My family had earned a living from fishing for five generations," said Xia Yingfa, a local who fished for a dozen years before the fish ban.
"Before, fish could be preserved for much longer after being salted and dried, since we had no refrigerators on the boat," said Xia.
Although his fishing career is over, Xia is still in the habit of making dried salted fish every winter.
Cleaned fish, including Spanish mackerels, eels, little yellow croakers, and black carps, can all be pickled and dried.
According to Xia, five kilograms of fish usually requires 125 grams of salt. The fish is pickled in a pot overnight and dried on a frame made of old fishing nets for about three sunny days.
"The net-made frames allow the fish to absorb the sunshine," Xia explained. "The fish will not be over dried, otherwise it will taste too salty and stiff. Leaving 30 percent of the moisture is ideal."
One of the most popular ways to cook the dried salted fish is to braise it with pork and season it with soy sauce, yellow rice wine, sugar, ginger, and scallion.
Xia Yingfa dries salted fish on a frame made of old fishing net. [Photo/ntjoy.com]