Kejax Dried Fish

Ark of taste
Back to the archive >

Kejax is the Wolof word for a braised and dried fish preparation that is traditional in Senegal. It is principally made out fish of the Sardinella genus (herrings and sardines), usually considered as “waste fish.” Sardinella are one of the most important groups of fish in Senegal, represents around two-thirds of the fishing in the country. These fish are fished all year long by fishermen along the coast, principally in the Grande Cote and Petite Cote regions. Women traditionally transform the fish into kejax.   The fresh fish are cleaned, braised over a fire, salted and finally dried it in the sun. Depending on the kind of Sardinellas that they have, women make different kind of kejax. With round fish, the kejax contains more fat, and is browner and heavier than with the flat Sardinellas. Kejax is a good source of protein for the poorest part of the population because it is quite cheap. Because of its long conservation capacity it can reach areas of the country that are far from the coast, something impossible with fresh fish. In the past it was used as a condiment but has became the protein base of many traditional dishes.   Lebul women introduced kejax production in Senegal, but Senegalese women quickly adopted that technique and even changed it to make it their own by introducing the braising step. Kejax became a local specialty in fishermen’s communities, where women were traditionally charged with promoting and selling their husbands’ catches. However, today with the mechanization of commercial processing activities, women are becoming more and more excluded of the process of transforming and selling the local fish, despite their years of experience and know-how on the subject.   Traditionally produced kejax is at risk of being lost as the market is taken over by those with more efficient processing methods. Kejax is not at risk of disappearing completely, but it is at risk of being transformed from what it has been for so long, losing its typical sensory characteristics and the related traditional production techniques along the way.

Back to the archive >