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Dried fish is used in an assortment of global cuisines, from Asian to Cajun. To created dried fish, various fish species can be exposed to air until the fish is depleted of its natural water content. Depending on the type of fish, it may have been soaked in a salt water solution before it is dried. Drying fish is a popular way to preserve this food item in Asian fishing towns. The dried fish is then cut up into small pieces to be eaten as a snack, flaked for use in a recipe, or combined with rice.
Shrimp that has been dried is often used in Asian dishes. It imparts a slightly savory flavor called umami. It can be used in braised dishes, soup, or dim sum. Cajun gumbo often utilizes dried shrimp instead of, or in addition to, fresh shrimp to add a different taste to the traditional Cajun dish.
A fish delicacy that is often created in Asia is called Bombay duck. The name is a misnomer, as the meat is not dried duck, but dried fish. The lizard fish is caught in the South China Sea and Arabian Sea. It is then salted, dried, and packed in airtight containers due to the strong fish odor. Since Bombay duck has very little taste, it is usually fried in butter or oil and served as a first course.
Bonito is a medium-sized fish that is often dried, shaved, and added to soups. Dried cod is called salt cod when it's dried after being soaked in a salt water solution called brine. When the dried fish has been dried without being salted, it's called stock fish. The Norwegian call the dried cod klippfisk, leading Americans to often call it clipfish. Other types of whitefish can be used if cod is not available.
To make dried fish, the fish is first washed off and split in half. The gills and internal organs are removed, leaving two fillets. The fillets can be stretched out between two screens and left to dry out for a few days. Some fish, especially large fish, are hung out to dry in the sun for several days. If the fish isn't soaked in a salted solution before drying, salt may be added after the fish is dry.
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