I. Catfish Background

Catfish is originally native to Southeast Asia and has been habitually farmed for food in America, Asia, Africa and Europe for many years. Its delicious quality, high in nutrition(full of Vitamin D & omega-3 fatty acids which prevent heart disease) and easy-to-cook make it a standard food in the market and the frequent dish on the table. As a dish, catfish fillet is usually smoked or fried, while the smoked one gets more flavor and longer shelf life than the fried one.

II. Reasons to Smoke Catfish

smoked catfish

Catfish usually lives in inland and of great self-survival, so they can be captured and farmed easier than other species. As the common freshwater fish, catfish is suitable for smoking for the following reasons:
1. Smoking extends shelf-life & reduces odor
Smoked with brine, quantities of adult fish get preserved without the offensive odor.
2. Smoking makes catfish more profitable
Through smoking, catfish turns into a delightful yellow color and its texture becomes clear, meanwhile, the meat tastes chewy but tender with an intense flavor. Therefore, it’s normally sold in supermarket and butcher’s shop.
3. Catfish is convenient to process and smoke
Catfish has simple physical structure and without scales, so the pretreatment process will be shortened which can save your time. And with our meat smoking machine, the smoking process becomes efficiently and environment-friendly, too. The meat smoking

machine adopts an advanced smoking principle which will be detailed afterward.

III. Smoking Principle

Traditionally, catfish smoking need burn wood to get the unique flavor which will do harm to the environment. Instead, our fish smoking machine adopts the wood-grains smoke system and modified pipe to reduce pollution. The machine includes smoking chamber, heating system, air circulation system and electrical control system. Therefore, it realizes drying, cooking, flavoring and coloring in one equipment. All in all, the four parts’ function are emphasized differently:

1. Smoking chamber

The whole smoking chamber is made of stainless steel which won’t rust, so catfish’s quality is guaranteed. When smoking, the time and the smoke amount in the chamber can be controlled by the convert button.

2. Heating system

When smoking, the machine can be heated by steam. This system automatically releases steam on the basis of chamber pressure. The high temperature increases smoke’s energy and shortens the smoking time, therefore, catfish will be cooked in few hours. What’s more, the heat also kills bacteria.

3. Air circulation system

The smoking machine also has two booster fan to provide a continuous air circulation, which will keep the chamber at the balanced temperature and make wood-grains burning sufficiently so that the catfish can have a uniform color & quality in a highly efficient way.
4. Electrical control system
The machine adopts full automatic electrical control system, smoking catfish becomes mechanized and hands-free.
Note: the machine is fully closed and equipped with Japan magnetic valve which reduces the possibility of a gas leak to work more efficiently.

IV. Smoked Catfish Processing Steps

1. Catfish sorting

For processing factories, sorting can unify end products’ size and make processing & selling more convenient. The fish sorting machine is suitable in medium and big processing industries.

2. Catfish cleaning

With fish cleaning machine, catfish’s outer slime and inner gut & membrane will be cleaned totally.

3. Catfish cutting

Since catfish have no scales, cleaned catfish can be directly cut into fillets by fish cutting machine. The proper cutting will reduce fish smoking time.

4. Catfish smoking

The catfish fillets can be rinsed in brine for adding flavor and extending storing time, as salt can help slow fat oxidation and avoid meat spoilage. Next, lay the fillets evenly on the trays and remember to leave fish skins on it for the skins can keep more oil in meat. Then set up the controlling panel and the smoking starts.
During processing, the fish smoking machine can realize smoking, drying and cooking catfish in one time, and the process can be divided into the following three parts:(take steam-driven for example)

catfish_smoking_machine

(1)Drying

In the first 30-60 minutes at 30℃, the air circulation system generates maximum gas. The circulating air takes away the moisture of catfish and fish’s weight loss in this stage.

(2)Smoking

Gradually, the temperature goes up to 50℃, the smoke becomes heavy, fish fillets’ color is getting yellow in this stage and it will last for about one hour.

(3)Smoking and Cooking

Heat continuously until the temperature is up to 80℃, the heat system generates lots of steam for cooking catfish. Once catfish’s inner temperature reach 60℃, fillets’ color and texture becomes deeper and the machine will cook another 30 minutes. In this stage cooking and smoking work at the same time.

5. Catfish packing

After cooling to the ambient temperature, the smoked catfish need to be stored in sealed bags in the fridge for 1-2 weeks and can be frozen for 1-2 months. As the smoked catfish still has 60%-70% water content, the microorganism’s growth won’t be fully prevented in room temperature.

V. Smoked Catfish Market Analysis

In the worldwide, over twenty countries directly produce, process and export catfish.
In 2016, Vietnam’s catfish has been exported to 137 countries and districts in the world. The main importing countries are America, China, Europe.
Americans consume local catfish and import smoked catfish from other countries every year. As lots of Africans work or live in America and not expensive price make catfish popular in local market and restaurant, it is estimated that smoked catfish will still have a certain market share in the USA in recent years.
The African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) has an almost Pan–African distribution. It is the most popular fish species in Nigeria and has high commercial value. Smoked catfish is a special delicacy in average and rich homes in this country.