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Dryfish is the term for Nigerian smoked and dried fish. It should not be confused with stockfish, another dried fish used in Nigerian cuisine. For one method of preparation, see Nigerian Smoked Fish.



The most common fish for making dryfish are catfish and mackerel.[1] The whole fish, sometimes not gutted, are typically formed into a circle and pinned to secure.[1][2][3] In some cases, the fish may be cut into pieces instead of coiled (e.g. mangala).[1] The fish are then slowly smoked over a long period until quite brown and dry, which gives it an intense smoky and savory flavor.[1][3] It can be smoke-dried to different degrees of hardness, ranging from fairly soft and fragile to quite hard.[3]

Selection and storage


When selecting dryfish, inspect it well to make sure it is free of mold—because this can be wiped off, you'll want to smell the fish as well to make sure mold hasn't penetrated inside.[3] Because of the intensive drying process, dryfish usually does not need refrigeration.[1] However, it will eventually go bad.



Because of the drying process and frequent contamination with debris and insects, dryfish must be soaked and cleaned before use.[1][3][4] Typically, this is done by soaking the entire fish in boiling water for anywhere from a minute or two to an hour—the exact duration can vary depending on the level of dryness, but soaking for too long will cause the fish to become mushy and lose flavor into the water.[1][4] The fish is then drained and rinsed, and the flesh is removed in pieces from the bones and any innards.[1][4]

Dryfish is very common in Nigerian cuisine, especially soups, where it contributes a smoky and savor flavor.[3] It is also used in other West African cuisines.[1] The drier the fish, the longer you will want to cook the flesh with the rest of the dish.[3]




  1. a b c d e f g h i "Smoke Dried Fish". clovegarden.com. Retrieved 2024-06-24.
  2. "Food: Dried Fish". North of Lagos. 2010-10-11. Retrieved 2024-06-24.
  3. a b c d e f g "About Nigerian Dryfish - The Pretend Chef". www.thepretendchef.com. 2016-11-11. Retrieved 2024-06-24.
  4. a b c "How to wash Dry fish - The Pretend Chef". www.thepretendchef.com. 2016-11-11. Retrieved 2024-06-24.