How to Make Dried Fish

Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

Make dried fish jerky for a nutritious and quick snack when you are camping, hiking or even simply going to school. Use fresh fish that was not frozen for the highest quality jerky. Fish jerky is best when made with lean fish; you can use fatty types of fish, but that will only store for about a week. Pickerel, halibut, pike, trout, striped bass, red snapper, sole, lingcod and rock cod are some types of lean fish to choose from. You can dry fish either in a dehydrator or in your oven.

In the Dehydrator

Cut the fish fillets into 1/4- to 3/8-inch thick strips and put them in a baking dish. Make the strips roughly the same size so they will dry evenly.

Cover the fish strips with a marinade of 1 1/2 to 2 tsp. of salt per pound of fish, seasonings of your choice and 1/4 cup of water. The salt is important because it prevents bacteria from growing in the fish during the drying process. You could use one or a combination of black pepper, cayenne pepper, tarragon, basil, parsley, cumin, curry or other herbs and spices. Marinate the fish for four to eight hours in the fridge for the fish to absorb the flavors.

Pick up each fish strip, allow the marinade to drip off the strip and lay the strip on the dehydrator trays. Perform this step for each piece of fish, without overlapping the strips.

Dry the fish strips in the dehydrator at 160 degrees Fahrenheit until it is firm, dry and pliable. It will take around 10 hours, but many factors are involved, including the humidity of the air, the thickness of the strips and the amount of fish in the dehydrator, that can speed up or slow down the drying process. If you see any moisture on the fish, you need to continue drying it, but if the fish falls apart when you bend it, you have dried it for too long.

In the Oven

Follow steps 1 and 2 in Section 1 to cut and marinate the fish strips. Then, lay the strips of fish on the top oven rack after greasing it. Put a cookie sheet or tin foil on the bottom rack of the oven to keep the oven clean.

Set the oven to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. If your oven doesn't go this low, set it to its minimum temperature and keep the door cracked open.

Dry the fish for two hours, then turn the temperature down to 130 degrees until the fish becomes the correct consistency, described in Section 1, step 4.