Traditional fish processing in Kusamba
Your trip to eastern Bali will be made even more colorful by visiting the island’s traditional fish processing center in Kusamba village, Klungkung regency.
Located around five minutes from Jl. Bypass Ida Bagus Mantra, the main route connecting Klungkung and Karangasem, the village offers an interesting scene of local people’s activities processing fish the traditional way.
The center is situated just before the border between Klungkung and Karangasem and is adjacent to the harbor connecting the mainland with Nusa Penida Island.
A usual morning view is fishermen unloading their catch from their jukung (traditional outrigger).
They not only process fish from nearby waters here, but also from Amed in Karangasem and Kedonganan in Badung. Fish from distant Kedonganan is usually brought in frozen packages to maintain its quality.
The activities in the fish processing center are ongoing almost 24 hours a day. Hundreds of women work according to their own skills. Some of them collect the catch, some carry the catch to the 77 kiosks and process the fish, while the rest sell the fish in traditional markets in Denpasar, Gianyar, Klungkung and Karangasem.
Some of the fish are smoked while others are made into pindang (salted, boiled fish), a popular dish in many towns and villages.
In Bali, pindang is usually made of cob fish weighing about 200 to 500 grams each. After being taken out of cold storage, the cob fish is immersed in clean water and soaked for about 30 minutes. The fish is then put in a big pan that can take up to 20 kilograms of fish and cooked over firewood.
“Before we rent this kiosk, we process the fish at home,” said Ketut Candri. When there is no catch from the fishermen, they cannot smoke the fish, but can cook pindang using fish stock. A pindang fish weighing 250 gram is usually sold for Rp 5,000 (53 US cents), while a smoked fish of the same weight costs Rp 10,000.
Some foreign tourists were seen strolling around this traditional fish processing center, taking pictures of the smoky kiosks and the busy women who have been successful in turning the small village harbor into a fish processing center.
- Photos by Agung Parameswara