Two common types of heating chambers for Catfish drying.
Two types of heat chambers for fish drying or grilling.
- The iron drum or tank chamber
- The oven chamber
The iron drum or tank chamber: This type is commonly known as the local method of drying fish. It involves cutting the two edges of a large Iron drum for the use of setting up a heat source to dry your Catfish. Alternatively, some people use concrete Blocks instead of Iron drums. The Blocks are arranged into about four layers in a square shape and an iron rack is placed on top for arranging the Catfish.
Those who are educated or high-income earners may decide to stay off such products. Catfish that are dried through this type of heating chamber are popularly called smoked Catfish because of the heat source which is firewood.
The oven chamber: This is a modern-day method that is practiced by a lot of Food processors all over the world. This involves the use of an Oven to provide heat to your Catfish over a required period. The oven can be in any size and shape provided it can perform the task of drying for a long period.
Although this method may require more funding or capital investment due to the high cost of things the outcome of using this method is known to be hygienic. The price of the oven is determined by the size, quality, location, and others.
The demand for Catfish that are dried with Oven is more than the demand for smoked Catfish which are done using firewood.go for oven-dried catfish because they are always free from dirt like sand and other forms of particles.
After you have considered the heating chamber to be used, and you have taken your Catfish through the cleaning and brining process the next step will be to clean up your drying facility.
All Tools and equipment to be used should be properly cleaned such as the Oven, the Racks, knives, Trays, pickers, etc.
The cleaning of your facility is highly important to prevent the spread of germs, sickness, and diseases.light up a fire inside the heating chamber.
It is advisable to always light up the fire a long time before you introduce the Fish into the chamber because the heat will help to kill every germ or microorganism that may have grown inside the chamber.
You can leave the fire on till the chamber gets hot. It is also good if you have a Thermometer to monitor the temperature.
At the point when the parts of the oven or heating chamber have received a level of heat, you will need to marinate the racks.
Marination is the process of applying or rubbing some Oil (Groundnut oil) on the surface of the racks where the Catfish will be laid. This process is required to prevent the Catfish from getting glued to the Iron rack during the drying process as a result of the heat. All the racks to be used must be well-marinated before laying the fish on them.
After marination, the catfish should be placed on the racks with their belly facing downwards. When the fish are been arranged, the processor must be patient and careful to avoid breakage or scattering of the fish.
While arranging the fish on the rack, you must be careful enough to not allow the Toothpick or broom used to attach the Head or the tail to get broken or fall off. At this point, the rack carrying the fish should be moved inside the Oven or to the local heating chamber.
For your dried fish to be thoroughly dried like the one processed at Wemmab Foods, it will take about 48 to 72 hours of drying. This is required because you need to get rid of the oil in the Catfish to prevent it from getting spoilt. While the drying is on, you are free to turn off the fire at night around 10 pm if each day.
During the first 24 hours after introducing the Catfish into the Oven, you have little or no work to be done. You only need to ensure the fire is on and not overheating.
The fish will still be very soft on the rack therefore do not attempt to lift them because they will tear open or break. This will make them lose their shape and become unmarketable.
Your attention will be needed from around the 38th hour when the skin of the fish would have started solidifying.
For Ovens that have multiple racks, Fish that are close to the heat source or those small in size will likely start getting hard faster therefore it is important to keep an Eye on those set of Catfish to prevent them from getting burnt in the Oven.
A this point you will need to use protective hand gloves for your hands to prevent the heat from burning your hands. This is because it will require you to randomly select the Fish from time to time to determine if their skin is soft or getting hard.
Touching the catfish from time to time is highly required. You may decide to check at every 1 hr 30 minutes intervals.
You will also need a Nose mask to prevent heat or smoke from entering your Nose and a head cover to prevent the effect of heat on your head. It will also prevent contamination from dropping on the Fish from your Head.
At around the 48th hour from when you started drying the fish initially, you will be required to pay close attention to the fish. This is because, at this time, the catfish will have dried to a good level but will still contain some oil in it. You will have to turn the fish back and front intermittently to ensure the heat is evenly distributed and for the oil to be released from all sides of the fish. You can reduce the temperature level at this point to regulate the heat. You will need to be extra careful and pay close attention while you check the fish on the different racks.
You are to randomly pick various catfish from different racks and sides to determine the state of the fish in general. When you touch the catfish randomly and still feel that soft oily texture then you will need to heat it for some time more until you can feel that hard texture. The catfish is supposed to be hardy when fully dried.
When you have gotten that hardy texture, you can start removing the fish one after the other into your fish collector. Keep the collected fish safe in a clean place for them to cool before you proceed to package them. At this point, you can quench the fire/ heat in your drying chamber. Two types of heat chambers for fish drying or grilling.
READ MORE: Off the Boat Fish Grill- menu and reviews