The words "corned beef' probably refers to a way of preserving beef in a salted state. Now corned beef is not very salty; rather it is a canned food. But what about the phrase "corned fish?" Twenty-five years ago when fishermen were kings, corned fish was the most popular product to be seen in San Pedro on the fences, on the kitchen roof, on the grass, on clothes lines and even on special long bamboo sticks placed horizontally for the fish to be put to dry.
WHY CORN FISH? To preserve it. In the absence of refrigerators, fish had to be preserved so that it could be taken later on to the mainland for sale. When it was mullet season, for example, fish had to be corned because you were stuck with 50 dozens and that was more than you could eat orsell in the village, so it had be taken elsewhere. When it was the season for shads, you would fill up a boat have 500 dozens in your possession.
HOW TO CORN FISH? The fish was scaled if it is shad or left with scales in the case of mullets. Once the fish was cleaned you added salt to it- lots of salt. The fish was placed in a container overnight and the next morning some of the excess It is washed off. Next, the fish was placed in the sun to be dried. Usually 2 to 3 days of good hot sun did the job perfectly. Once the mullets were dried, they were tied in pairs and then grouped in bundles of 12. A bundle of 12 sold for 75 cents 25 ears ago. Two mullets sold for 15 cents. Shads sold 2 for 5 cents or a bundle of 12 25 tents. How long does corned fish last? If well salted or corned, 2 to 3 months. Expert fishermen claimed they were good to be eaten a year later. Any problems? Yes, they attracted flies when put out in the open. Flies laid their eggs in the fish, which led to Maggots in the fish. The maggots fed on the fish and used it to spoil. Maggots on fish is distasteful and a health problem.
HOW TO PREPARE CORN FISH? Some people fried it just like that. Others boiled it first to remove excess salt and then fried it or hashed it. Barracudas and large groupers or jacks were usually boiled and hashed and then fried and coconut oil. UMMM! Thinking about it makes anyone's mouth watering for some good hashed fish.
Twenty five years ago salted fish ruled. What does that cause? High cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, big bellies, and worms? What ever it did, it did not kill anybody. Let's try a sample test. Corn some barracuda and place some in the refrigerator for 2 months. Then fry them and find out which is better. Happy cooking!