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Posts Tagged ‘dried cod’

98989420_04ba6d56-1f9e-40c2-a5e0-e5d9484b2294 Photo: Penny Dale/BBC Africa
In Nigerian markets the smell of stockfish — a culinary stable that comes from Norway — permeates the air.

I was interested to learn that something called “stockfish,” from Norway, has become a staple of the Nigerian diet. Penny Dale and Victoria Uwonkunda of BBC Africa have the story.

” ‘The taste of stockfish is life. We can’t cook without stockfish.’

“That’s the verdict of women at the bustling Onyingbo market in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, as they carefully choose pieces of the specially dried cod. …

“The smell of stockfish is pungent. … As the moisture drips out, the flavour of the fish deepens to create a rich, intense and complex taste.

“It is perfect for a Nigerian palate, which favours big and bold flavours such as fermented locust beans and chilli pepper, says young chef Michael Elegbde.

“Based in Lagos, Mr Elegbde is a rising star in Nigeria’s culinary world — and his signature dishes revolve around stockfish. Growing up, he spent a lot of time helping his grandmother in the kitchen, and she loved stockfish as a key ingredient in traditional dishes. …

“It was only later in life — when he had followed in his grandmother’s cooking footsteps — that he discovered the fish that he had grown up with actually came from almost half-way round the world, in the cold Arctic waters off the coast of Norway. …

“Between January and April, millions of cod migrate from the Barents Sea to breed in the fjords — and the climate is perfect for the natural drying process.

” ‘You need both cold and dry weather, and you need sun. We have everything here. We are gifted from God,’ laughs Erling Falchs, whose family business Saga Fisk has been in the stockfish trade for six generations.

“After gutting, cod is hung out on huge wooden A-frames, up to 10 metres high, and left to dry for three months in in the cold, crisp winter air. No salt, no additives – just in the same way that it has been dried since the time of the Vikings.

“Although Nigeria has a long coastline teeming with other species of fish, people say the stockfish has a unique taste and so it is Norway’s biggest export market for the fish. …

“It was the Biafran civil war in Nigeria 50 years that really set the scene for stockfish to become a must-have ingredient in Nigerian cuisine. In the course of three bloody years, more than a million people died — mostly from hunger. It was a humanitarian crisis on an unprecedented scale, and churches and relief agencies from all over the world joined together to fly in emergency supplies.

“Norway’s contribution was stockfish. It doesn’t need refrigeration, and it is full of protein and vitamins — perfect to combat kwashiorkor, the malnutrition that characterised the Biafran war.”

Read more at the BBC, here.

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