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close this bookSmall-Scale Processing of Fish (ILO - WEP, 1982, 140 p.)
close this folderII. BOILED FISH PRODUCTS
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentII.1. Traditional processing methods
View the documentII.2. Quality of boiled fish products


The boiling of fish in water or brine is a method of short term preservation used in many countries, mostly in South-East Asia. The shelf life of the products varies from one to two days to several months, depending on the processing method.

Boiling fish in water at normal pressure denatures (cooks) the proteins and kills many bacteria present in the fish. The normal spoilage that occurs in the fish is thus stopped or drastically reduced. However, given the traditional packaging methods employed with cooked fish, the latter are often re-contaminated with bacteria and the product gets quickly spoiled. Boiling fish in water does not produce a completely sterile product as in the case of canned fish and, even if boiled fish were packed in a completely sealed container, spoilage would still occur. Boiling in water is a form of pasteurisation similar in many respects to that carried out in hot smoking operations.

Many variations of the basic processing method are used depending on raw material costs and availability, the required shelf life and consumer preferences. Often, salt is added before, during or after processing. High levels of salt in the final product help extend the shelf life. In hot humind countries, where the drying of fish may be difficult, boiling - which requires low cost facilities and equipment - may provide a method of getting the catch to market in an unspoiled condition. Products where the fish are boiled for a relatively short time with little salt added should be handled in the same way as fresh fish. Where the fish are cooked for several hours with sufficient salt, the product will be relatively stable and can be handled in much the same way as cured fish products.