Catfish are group of fish that belongs to kingdom Animalia, Phyllum chordata, Class Actinopterygii, and Order Siluriformes. They are named for their prominent barbels, slender whisker-like tactile organs near the mouth which give the image of cat-like whiskers. According to researchers, catfish are very diverse, ranking second or third in diversity among orders of vertebrates, with almost 3000 known species. They are predominantly found in freshwater environments of all kinds with species on every continent except Antartica. Unlike most fish, they have scales, fleshy, gloomy posterior fin and often spine-like rays present at the front of the dorsal and pectoral fins.
Catfish, which have a sweet, mild flesh are important as food fish throughout the world. They can be served as food when boiled, roasted, fried or dried. Catfish can be dried by smoking, that is, drying of fish by applying smoke directly from burning wood and/or oven drying.
Proper processing and oven drying of catfish has been generally acceptable and known to be one of the most hygienic method of drying catfish by making them tasty, ready to eat, free of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH), providing numerous health benefits such as prevention of heart disease and type 2 diabetes due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acid in them and thus increasing their shelf life.
KEY STEPS TO CATFISH DRYING
Fish processing to dry fish involves the following steps;
- · Collection of table size fish from source.
The size of fish to be processed depends most times on individual and/or
general consumers’ demands.
Weighing of fish. This can be achieved by
using weighing scale. There are varied sizes of weighing scale and its use
depend on the size of fish to be processed.
- · Stunning of fish. Stunning is done by
adding a measured quantity of salt to the fish collected to be processed and
the quantity of the salt to be used in stunning depends on the total size of
the fish. After adding salt, they are left untouched for about 20-30 Minutes. Then,
they are thoroughly washed with clean water to remove dirt.
Degutting; involves removing of guts,
gills and blood from the fish. Then, they are thoroughly rinsed to remove any
other trace of blood or intestinal stains.
- · Afterwards, fish are drained to remove water
and heat is applied through the oven. Oven to be used should be heated up to a
temperature of about 50°C before loading fish and a temperature of 100°C should
be maintained throughout the drying process. Heat sources include charcoal, gas
- Finally, they are folded and gently set on
nets in the oven and are left covered with continuous heating for a reasonable
period of time.