Before It Becomes Your “Rice Puller”
Not all fish are firm to the touch; many begin to lose their freshness by the time the boats bring in the catch or they are trucked in from fishing harbours to market. But all is not lost. They are transported in truckloads to fishing hamlets to be prepared as dried fish; that spicy dish which is usually eaten with rice.
One such spot is Kochchikade, a little village on the West Coast of Sri Lanka. As the fish are unloaded from the truck, a team of workers, mostly women begin the task of cleaning them. They sit close to the ocean, on mats or stools, as different types of fish are piled before them. The cleaned fish are tossed into baskets which are in turn taken down to the sea by a team of men. The baskets are dipped lightly into the water as the waves come in and are given a quick twist or two to wash the fish. They are then placed in barrels, a layer of fish, and then a layer of salt, until the barrel is full.
Nothing is wasted. Any parts that cannot be used are sent to fish farms as food and are also used as plant fertilizer.
Old Polypropylene bags are used to cover the barrels which are then weighted down with sand. Two or three days later the salted fish are laid out on gunny cloth in the sun to dry. Plastic sheets are used to cover the fish overnight and from the rain and are ready to be transported back to market twenty four hours later.