Barrel-Salted Damselfish

Ark of taste
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Usoljeni Crneji

Damselfish (Chromis chromis) swim in the areas close to the coast, where the sea reaches a depth of around 40 meters. This species grows to a length of about 16 centimeters and a weight of about 80 grams. It has never been of great importance in the local gastronomy and is rarely found in the markets. Among fishers, however, it was common practice to catch damselfish and preserve them in salt until the end of summer, so that there would be a supply of fish to consume during the winter season. The traditional method of preserving these fish involves arranging them in a barrel as soon as they are caught, alternating layers of fish with layers of salt. At regular intervals the barrels are flipped upside down and rolled to ensure that the salt is distributed evenly and that the fish cure properly. In the past it was common to wait at least 1 year, or until the following fishing season, to start consuming the salted fish. Barrel-salted damselfish are normally consumed with bread or cooked, after rinsing off all the salt.

It is primarily older people who continue the tradition of preserving and eating damselfish. This product is typical in several of the islands along the Dalmatian coast (such as Lastovo, Korčula, and Hvar), while in many of the cities along the coast it is more common to preserve other types of fish, such as sardines.

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