Scrumbie de Dunăre Afumată
Smoked pontic shad is a typical product from Tulcea, a city at the edge of the Danube River Delta. Pontic shad (Alosa immaculata) migrate up the rivers that flow into the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. This species grows up to 35 centimeters in length and has a black, blue, or gray back, silvery sides, and a white belly. The fishing season begins in May and finishes in August. The traditional fishing method, passed from father to son, involves the use of nets, 3-4 meters high, that are stretched across the channels in the delta. The nets have openings 3-3.5 cm wide, which allow smaller fish to pass through withough being caught.
To make Danube smoked pontic shad, the fish are sliced open, cleaned, and then hung up to dry for a few days over a fire made from wood shavings. Once fully smoked, the fish acquire a golden color. They are hung in a cool, dry area for storage. Danube smoked pontic shad has soft meat and a salty, greasy flavor. The fish are stored whole and then eaten as is or minced with some vegetables, such as onions.
Danube smoked pontic shad is threatened due to the decline of pontic shad caused by overfishing, and because young people are generally not interested in traditional fishing, since it is not a particularly lucrative activity. Recently, there has been a growing effort among the few remaining fishermen (mostly elderly) who make Danube smoked pontic shad to promote and protect this homemade product and the associated knowledge and techniques.