Namibe Dried Croaker

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Corvina seca do Namibe

The Benguela Current is an ocean current that runs along the western coast of South Africa towards the north of the continent: this upwelling current is considered the most productive in the world in terms of biomass and the marine life it supports.

Fishing is the primary source of sustenance for the coastal populations of the Province of Nambie and the main local economic sector. The fish biodiversity is extremely varied: the carapau (horse mackerel), corvina (southern meagre) and Caranguejo (crab) are three of the most fished species and characteristic of the local cuisine. Despite the fact that many foreign fleets exploit this rich portion of ocean practicing industrial and semi-industrial fishing (exponential growth after independence form Portugal proclaimed in 1975), small artisanal fishing meets most of the domestic market demand and helps sustain the local population.

The practice of drying fish (mainly done by hand by women) is due to the need to preserve the product and lack of adequate infrastructures and economic resources for freezing fish. Croaker is one of the species that works best for drying because it is medium-large in size, even if it is easy to find horse mackerel and other fish dried in the same manner. The fish, purchased directly by the women from the fishermen, is cleaned, cut lengthwise and opened like a book; it is covered with plenty of salt to aid in the preservation and protect it from flies and other insects. After a few days, the fish is put on tilted mats exposed to the sun and left to completely dry. The dried fish is used as an ingredient in many dishes, for example calulù, a thick soup of fresh and dried fish with onions, tomatoes and sweet potato leaves, served with funje, a popular porridge like dish made from millet or cassava flour.
The increase in companies that process fish to export fish meal and oils and the intensification of industrial fishing have put artisanal fishing at risk and consequently, also this traditional preservation practice.

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Fish, sea food and fish products

Nominated by:Teresa Francisco Asarada