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Fish Jerky

With hunting season over, those looking to enjoy outdoor sporting activities often turn to fishing. So in this post, we’ll take a look at fish jerky which has been a staple for mankind for a very long time.






As with red meat jerky, the fish used should be the leanest AND freshest possible (the flesh of the fish deteriorates and decomposes rapidly).   Any fish used should also be free of any parasite or disease.  This is true for both freshwater and saltwater fish.  Some recommended fish are:

Freshwater Fish
  • Bass
  • Brook Trout
  • Bluegills
  • Walleyes
  • Perch
  • Crappies


Saltwater Fish
  • Codfish
  • Flounder
  • Tuna (free of fat)


The more ‘oily’ fish such as snapper, mullet, whitefish, catfish and pike are not recommended for making jerky as the fat/oil is too evenly distributed throughout the flesh. Although, they are good for smoking.


Unlike red meat jerky, fish jerky is salt cured – liquid or dry – before dehydration. [1]   A couple methods are below:

Brine Cure – 1/4 cup of dine pickling or canning salt to 2 cups of water. Brine should cover the fish and make sure the salt is completely dissolved.  Using a glass container, place the fish in the brine and place in refrigerator for 48 hours.

Dry Brine Cure – Place a layer of dry salt in a glass dish, apply coating of salt to each strip of fish, place in pan – repeat for each fish strip.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 48 hours.

For both wet/dry brine cure, remove fish from container upon completion of 48 hours and rinse under cold water then pat dry. You can now marinate and/or dehydrate the fish.  While marinating is not necessary, it does add to the flavor.

Fish Jerky Marinade

For the recipe below, allow the mixture to set overnight in the refrigerator before using with the fish strips.  This lets all the flavors blend.   When ready to use the fish marinade, allow the fish strips to set in the marinade for about two (2) hours in the refrigerator before placing into the dehydrator or oven.  You can, of course, use your favorite pre-packaged marinade.

Fish  Marinade Recipe [1]

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons white pepper

Dehydrator Drying –  follow manufacturer’s directions for fish.

Oven Drying – place on wire racks over a pan to catch drippings.  Set over to 150 degrees F, leaving the oven door slightly open.  Dry for about one hour, turn strips over and to dry for an additional hour.  When completed, the fish jerky should  bend but not break.  For safety an internal temperature should reach 160 degrees.


Just like red meat jerky, fish jerky needs to be stored in a cool dry place, frozen or vacuum packed to enjoy later.


Check back – next time when we’ll look at how to prepare cured and smoked salmon.  Not exactly jerky – but so delicious !!





[1] The Complete Jerky Book

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