Fish Crackers Fish Crackers

Fish Crackers

(KEROPOK LEKOR & KEROPOK KERING)

 
Fish crackers are favourite snack for Malaysian and its neighbouring countries. In Malaysia, there are several fish cracker producers that are operating in the coastal areas of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johore and Kedah.

The crackers are normally processed using fish, shrimps or squid flesh which is mixed with tapioca flour and/or sago flour as the main ingredients and the salt, sugar and MSG as seasonings. The types of fish normally used to process fish crackers are the Wolf herring (ikan parang), Sardines (ikan tamban), Round scad (ikan selayang), Threadfin bream (ikan kerisi), Ox-eyed scad (ikan lolong bara), Goatfish (ikan biji nangka), Lizard fish (ikan conor) and others.

According to the Food Act 1985, fish crackers should be prepared from fish and tapioca flour with the protein content not less than 15%.

The quality of the crackers produced depends on the freshness of the fish, type of fish used, ratio of the main ingredients as well as the processing method. A good quality fish cracker is determined by its taste and flavour, its crispness and the extent of expansion of the cracker when fried in hot oil.

There are several types of fish crackers produced by local entrepreneurs, such as dry crackers (keropok kering), wet form in the shape of a long dough, commonly called “keropok lekor” and lightly sugar-coated crackers called “keropok bersira”.
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Flow Chart
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Ingredients for “Keropok Lekor”
 
No
Ingredients
%
Example
1
Fish Meat
100
10 Kg
2
Tapioca/Sago flour of a combination
70
7 Kg
3
Salt
2.5
250 Grams
4
Sugar
1.5
150 Grams
5
MSG
0.3
30 Grams
6
Iced water
20 - 30
2 - 3 litres

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Ingredients for Dry Fish Crackers
 
No
Ingredients
%
Example
1
Fish Meat
100
10 Kg
2
Tapioca/Sago flour of a combination
100
10 Kg
3
Salt
2.5
300 Grams
4
Sugar
1.5
200 Grams
5
MSG
0.3
30 Grams
6
Iced water
20 -30
2 - 3 litres

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Method of Making “Keropok Lekor”/Dry Crackers
 
a)    Mixing the Dough

All the ingredients for processing the crackers, i.e., fish meat, tapioca/sago flour, salt, sugar, seasoning (MSG) and iced water are mixed thoroughly using a mixer. The components are well mixed when they do not stick to the walls of the mixer and can form a dough.

b)    Moulding

The mixture is formed into cylindrical portions according to the size required. Normally, portions for dried crackers are formed into 30 – 50 cm long cylinders with a diameter of 6 -10 cm and weighing between 500 grams – 1 kg. Portions for “keropok lekor” are smaller at 100 – 500 grams.

c)    Cooking

The dough for “keropok lekor” is cooked by steaming, boiling or direct frying, whereas the dough for the dry crackers is either boiled or steamed.

The crackers from the dough which is steamed have better quality compared to those from the dough which is boiled, but the steaming process takes longer time. The steaming of the dough takes between 1 – 1.5 hours depending on the size of the portions, whereas boiling takes only 20 – 30 minutes. The dough which is boiled will rise to the surface when cooked.

d)    Slicing

The cooked dough is drained of water and kept chilled or at room temperature overnight before slicing into thin pieces. The dough is sliced using a knife or with a fish cracker slicing machine.

e)    Drying

The thin slices of fish crackers are arranged in a drying platform and sun-dried. Under good weather conditions, the crackers will dry in 6 to 7 hours.

f)    Packaging

The sun-dried crackers are collected from the drying rack, weighed and packed in plastic bags. The plastic bags are sealed using a sealing machine.

Packaging is an important factor in quality control. Poor packaging will lead to exposure to the effects of the environment, such as oxygen in the air, humidity, impurities, microbes and excessive light exposure. This can cause the crackers to become stale, attacked by fungus, rancid, have foul odour and lose their nutritional value.

Attractive packaging is also important as it attracts more consumers.

g)    Storage/Stocking

The packets of fish crackers weighing 100 gm, 200 gm and 500 gm are arranged carefully so that there is no excessive weight on the packets which can cause damages such as breakage or crushing of the slices.