Demand for dried fish, popularly known as Shutki, is increasing in the capital as well as all over the country. There are many shops in the kitchen markets of the capital that sell dried fish only. There are also separate dried fish shelves in the superstores. Hawkers also sell dry fish on van. All these only indicate the growing popularity and demand for dried fish.
Visiting Sadarghat, Karwan Bazar and Mohakhali kitchen markets, it is found that the demand for dry fish is on the rise. Loitya (Harpodon neherius), Chhuri (Lepturacanthus savala), Puti (Puntius sarana, P. stigma), Chapila (Gadusia chapra), Lakkha (Polynemus indicus), Rupchanda (Pampus chinensis) and shrimps (Metapenaeus species and Penaeus species) are the popular marine and sweet water fishes that are used as dried fish.
A dried fish seller of Karwan Bazar Abul Kalam said demand for dried fish increasing due to order from different restaurants which means it has become a popular item in the menu of the city’s restaurants. “There are varieties of dried fishes in the market with reasonable prices. Most of the dried fishes are exported abroad. Our dried fish arrive the capital from mainly Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar,” he added.
Most of the customers want marine dried fish. However many of the customers also want sweet-water dried fish. Demand of dried fish is increasing gradually, he further said. While buying dried fish at Karwan Bazar, Shoheli Akter, a housewife said, “We are from Chattogram and fond of dried fish by born. As we live in Dhaka, we buy dried fish from here. My family members love to eats dried fish regularly. Especially shutki vorta (mashed dried fish).”
Afroja Akter, a domestic help by profession, came Karwan Bazar to buy dried fish for her family. “Before coming to Dhaka, I was not used to have dried fish. I got used to have it from different hotels and homes here where I have worked as a domestic help. Now I like the item in my lunch or dinner,” she added.
Nutritionist Professor Nazma Khatun told Bangladesh Post that the process of drying fish is often not hygienic and frequently pesticide is applied to keep the dried fishes fresh. In such situation, excessive consuming of dried fish might pose grave threat to health.
“Most dried fishes contain little salt or cholesterol while they are rich in essential vitamins and minerals. As awareness of obesity, diabetes and cardio diseases continues to increase, the demand of dried fish will increase as well. The quality control is needed when processing the dried fishes,” she added. Some important spots of dried fish are Dublar Char of Sundarbans, Saint Martin’s Island, Rangabali, Sonadia Island and Moheshkhali of Cox's Bazar, Ibrahimpur of Sunamganj, and Joshomantapur of Jamalganj.
Chattogram division alone provides half of the dried fish demand of the country. Chapa Shutki (pressed dried fish) is prepared through fermentation of small-sized Puti fish in Kishoreganj, Mymensingh, Narsingdi, Sylhet, Cumilla and Narayanganj districts. Kuliarchar and Lalpur of Kishoreganj, and Madhabdi of Narsingdi produce large scale Chapa Shutki. Fish drying as a means of preservation has been practiced since time immemorial in this region, and dry fish is considered as a delicacy in the menu of many people of Bangladesh.