Mukene/ Silver fish is the popular name for a very tiny type of fish found in Lake Victoria in Uganda. The English name for mukene is Syliver Cyprinid or Lake Victoria Sardine. The locals in Uganda call it mukene or silver fish, while in Kenya it is called Omena and Daaga in Tanzania.
Silvercyprinid/ Lake victoria sardine is a small silvery fish that grows up to 9cm (3.5) inches found in the fresh waters of Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria is being shared by the three east African countries Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. They also share this tinny fish.
FISHING THE MUKUNE IN LAKE VICTORIA
Fishing of mukene is done on moonless nights with the use of artificial light sources to attract the fish. Initially, fishers used kerosene pressure lamps to allure the fish in Uganda. Industrial fishing rigs were imported in Uganda which improved the catch of mukene made per night. The high price difference in these two sources of light became a limiting factor to mukene harvest.
PRESERVING MUKENE IN UGANDA
Mukene caught by fishers at night is sold off to wholesale traders when still wet and fresh. The traders comprised mainly of women spread the mukene out on bare ground or gravel to dry. Improved methods and more healthy methods of drying the fish include; mukene is spread out on old fishing nets to dry at landing sites, raised racks have also been created on some landing sites for use in the drying of mukene.
CONSUMPTION OF MUKENE
70% of mukene fished in Uganda is used for human consumption while the remaining 30% is used as animal feed. Like mukene dog food and chicken feeds. Mukene in Uganda was related to poverty and treated as food for the poor people. More scientific research into the healthy nutrients and benefits of eating mukene has revealed that mukene is a highly nutritious fish that should not be ignored. The attitude of the people towards mukene has changed with increasing business in mukene and value addition to the fish. Mukene is currently consumed in different ways and is therefore packed for value addition and sold in different supermarkets in Uganda.
5 HEALTHY BENEFITS OF EATING MUKENE
- Mukene has polyunsaturated fatty acids like Omega 3 and Omega 6 that are good for keeping the heart and the brain Healthy. Pregnant women and children food have been encouraged to add Mukene to their diets. Nutritious baby foods and formulas on the market have taken on adding mukene to their recipes.
- Mukeneis rich in vitamin A and E which promote good eye vision. Vitamin A aids ai good night vision.
- Mukene contains amino acids which boost the general body immunity and helps to fight diseases like the common cold.
- Mukene has proteins that are essential for building the body, repairing tissues and good skin.
- Mukene also has calcium which is good for strengthening bones since it is eaten with bones that contain calcium.
EASY UGANDAN MUKENE RECIPE
½ a cup of mukene
1 eggplant (finely diced)
2 tomatoes( finely diced)
1 onion finely chopped
3 tablespoons of Groundnut paste
You place 1/ 2 a cup of mukene into a thick based saucepan and put it over moderate heat. Roast the mukene for about 3 to minutes until the mukene turns a little brown
You then sock the mukene in cold water for at least five minutes and then wash it and pour the water away.
You then place a cooking pot over the fire, add a little cooking oil to it and wait until it stops simmering. Then add your finely chopped onions to it and wait until they change colour to a little brown. Add your tomatoes and wait for them to become soft. Add finely diced eggplant and let it cook for 5 minutes.
You now add the mukene and mix well. Add salt and any other seasoning to taste and mix well. Add little water, close to ¼ a cup and boil this mixture for more than five minutes.
But if you intend to make a paste your mukene with ground nuts. Then cook your groundnut paste, as we learnt in the Ugandan groundnut stew recipe previously. When it is ready add your mukene and eggplant mixture to the stew and boil for 3-5 more minutes until it is ready.
ADDING VALUE TO YOUR MUKENE
A change in the attitude attached to mukene as food for the poor people has led to adding value initiatives to mukene. With this, the fisheries body under the ministry of agriculture has endeavoured to invest in ensuring that mukene is added to the menus of people in Uganda.
Sorted clean Mukene is packaged well and branded in different quantities for sale in supermarkets and shops around Uganda. Mukenepreviouslyonly sold in makeshift containers can now be accessed in sealed clean packages in all major supermarkets and markets in Uganda. This has helped in adding value to the Mukene.
Mukene is deep-fried to increase its shelf life, packaged and sold as a snack in shops and supermarkets. High-quality clean mukene is used for making mukene snacks since they are ready to eat off the shelf. This has tremendously added value to the previously undermined mukene. Many women and youths are employed in packaging and selling this mukene adding value to the young people of this nation as well.
Mukene has also been crushed to a powder form, packaged and sold in many supermarkets. This type of mukene meets the needs of young children such that they can benefit from all its healthy nutrients. mukene powder is added to kids recipes and adult foods as well.