Dehydrating Fish for Fish Jerky
If you're burned out on beef and venison jerky, it might be time to try something new. How about fish jerky?
When it comes to fish jerky, you've got to be a little careful when choosing the right fish. And it's got to be fresh.
Dehydrated fish strips are best when made with a fresh catch. The fresher the better, to avoid spoilage.
Which Fish to Dehydrate?
There are a lot of different fish out there, but the one you choose to dehydrate matters. It's best to avoid fatty fish because the oil makes the fish spoil quickly.
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It's not the worst thing to use a fatty fish like salmon. In fact, many jerky cookbooks have salmon jerky recipes, and salmon has a high fat content. The thing about fish is unlike beef, you can't simply cut off the visible fat because you can't cut out marbling.
If you can help it though, you're better off choosing something in the left column.
Fish Jerky Recipes
When making any kind of jerky, you want to make sure the slices are even. Try to slice the fish into strips about 3/8" thick. Even slices mean all the pieces will dry at the same time.
Salt Cured Fish Strips
One method of preparing fish for dehydration is curing. This helps with preventing spoilage during the drying process. Salt kills microorganisms and prevents the growth of more by drawing water out of the cells of the microbes and the fish.
To start, add 3/4 cup of salt to 1 1/2 quarts of cold water. Marinate the fish in the brine for 30 minutes. Then rinse off all the salt and pat dry with a paper towel.
Now, add a dry cure (salt and your favorite seasonings) to the fish. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for 6 hours.
Now, shake off any excess salt and lay the strips of fish on the trays. Don't let the fish touch each other. Dry for 8-12 hours at 145-155 F.
You have to test a piece to know if they're done. The first test is visual. There shouldn't be any surface moisture. Then squeeze the thickest part of a cooled piece with your fingers. The jerky should not crumble. Finally, smell and taste it. It should smell and taste fishy.
Marinated Fish Jerky
If you want to try something a bit fancier than a simple salt cure, you can marinate the fish in your favorite sauce. Try a sauce like the reliable standby Teriyaki, or maybe Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce.
The Preserve It Naturally book has a wonderful recipe that calls for beer and Yoshida's. Mix a 16 oz of beer with 16 oz of Yoshida's Sauce in a large bowl. Then add the fish. Cover and store in the fridge for 24 hours.
Lay the fish sticks flat on your dehydrator trays. Don't let them touch. Then dry at 145-155 F for 8-12 hours or until completely dry.
Always allow the jerky to cool before storing. If you put the dried fish in a container too soon, moisture will form, which'll hasten spoilage.
The leaner the fish, the longer the jerky will store. Be sure to use airtight plastic or glass containers, and place that in a cool, dry place. If you dehydrated a fattier fish, it's fine. Just try to eat it sooner than later.