People love to eat fermented mullet fish, even though the Egyptian government warns them to avoid it


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/11/09/people-love-to-eat-fermented-m.html


#2

Mullet must be an acquired taste. I find that it stinks and tastes like dirt.


#3

Many cultures have similar fermented fish products, for example:

Surströmming (pronounced [²sʉːˌʂʈrœmːɪŋ], Swedish for “sour herring”) is a lightly-salted fermented Baltic Sea herring.

The Baltic herring, known as strömming in Swedish, is smaller than the Atlantic herring, found in the North Sea. Traditionally, the definition of strömming is “herring fished in the brackish waters of the Baltic north of the Kalmar Strait”.[1] The herring used for surströmming are caught just prior to spawning.

During a production of surströmming, just enough salt is used to prevent the raw herring from rotting. A fermentation process of at least six months gives the fish a characteristic strong smell and somewhat acidic taste. According to a Japanese study, a newly opened can of surströmming has one of the most putrid food smells in the world, stronger than similarly fermented fish dishes such as the Korean hongeohoe or Japanese kusaya.

At the end of the 1940s, producers lobbied for a royal ordinance (Swedish: förordning) that would prevent incompletely fermented fish from being sold. The decree forbade sales of the current year’s production in Sweden prior to the third Thursday in August. While the ordinance is no longer on the books, retailers still maintain the date for the “premiere”.

Because of the strong smell, surströmming is ordinarily eaten outdoors. The pressurized can is usually opened some distance away from the dining table, and is often initially punctured while immersed in a bucket of water, which prevents brine from spraying onto clothes and traps most of the smell.

Many people do not care for surströmming, and it is generally considered to be an acquired taste. It is a food which is subject to strong passions, as is lutefisk.

See also:


#4

This looks good!

Now I gotta figure out how I can find it locally.


#5

Hmm, seems to me fermentation is simply controlled spoilage. And I like fermented foods like pickled herring and kimchi!


#6

Its probably better than Surstromming or Hákarl. Likely the Hákarl is much much worse than anything else.


#7

The video is quite poor on actual content. Why it is dangerous?
Which are the most important things to care for when preparing? How many people are sick or die every year due to this?


#8

Yeah i was wondering the same thing. It’s possible that when fermenting the fish some places don’t properly sanitize everything and the fish just spoils or grows the wrong kind of bacteria (a big problem with any fermented food/drink). But since they don’t outright say it in the video i can only guess.


#9

ill ask them if they have any next time i’m at the ikea cafeteria


#10

Likely they won’t but you can also try their fish roe paste if they have it in stock, it’s really good on breakfast toast! Very fishy and salty, if that’s a taste you like i highly recommend it.


#11

It’s dangerous because of botulism. In 1991, 18 people died in Egypt from eating bad feseekh. Don’t know how that compares to botulism cases from other kinds of home made preserves gone wrong but it does sound rather risky.


#12

That does gel with my suspicions, considering (from the video) that it seems that feseekh is fairly popular so its possible that some people in trying to make it cheap and quick can accidentally end up making bad batches. But the same can be said for other food stuffs, botulism is pretty scary though…


#13

Wikipedia seems to agree:

It is curious though, since botulism grows in anaerobic or acidic conditions, and at least on the steps outlined here it doesn’t seem too terribly anaerobic.

I dunno if that recipe is typical, but one important step that would improve food safety is removing the gills. At least this is just what I read about safety when smoking or preserving fish.


#14

And causes an affinity for confederate flags


#15

Botulism is actually inhibited by acid, which is why you need a pressure canner to can low acid foods.

That recipe is interesting. Not sure I’d want to let the fish dry at room temperature for 24 hours before salting. Also, the curing process it says to make sure to wrap it in several plastic bags to prevent air - perfect for creating anaerobic conditions, and if you don’t get good salt coverage it could easily go wrong.

That said, I’d totally eat it if I had the opportunity.


#16

All kidding aside, I’d bet that Julia Child said that very thing at least once.


#17

Yeah, I knew that. That is not what I typed of course. Blah. Meant to type low acid. I have been pressure canning fish recently.


#18

I couldn’t resist.


#19

It’s also very tasty on Ritz crackers.

… I’m hungry now.


#20

Matjes is basically the same. Popular in the Netherlands and Germany.

The soused herring ( maatjesharing or just maatjes in Dutch, or matjes in German and Swedish) is an especially mild salt herring, which is made from young immature herrings. The herrings are ripened for a couple of days in oak barrels in a salty solution, or brine. The pancreatic enzymes which support the ripening make this version of salt herring especially mild and soft. Raw herring pickled in vinegar are called rollmops.