It’s very trendy right now to mix fish with tropical fruits, nuts and other unconventional ingredients. But in Africa, cooks have been regularly doing this for years. Here are 10 sweet and savoury African seafood dishes you should try when you are visiting the continent, plus recipes if you want to cook them at home.
This article originally appeared on AFKInsider.com.
Cassava Leaves and Fish Soup
Cassava leaves are a common green used in Gabonese cooking. This soup has a great, creamy texture and the sweetness of the peanut butter and coconut milk contrasts nicely with the spicier flavors to create its own unique taste. You can use tilapia or mackerel. Find the recipe here.
Baked Fish and Eggplant
African eggplant is usually smaller and has a more bitter flavor than the sweet American eggplant, so if you can find mini eggplant at your local store, you can recreate this recipe as closely as possible. This dish is best served with fufu, a doughy, starchy side dish, and African hot sauce. That way you get your carb fix, your protein and vegetables, and a great kick from the hot sauce. Find the recipe from CongoCookBook.com here.
Fried Fish in Peanut Sauce
This is a dish from Cameroon that is made with a fish called dorade, which is similar to sea bass or dorada. The dish also incorporates shrimp or prawns, and uses interesting sweet ingredients such as ginger and nutmeg, so it has a sweet and spicy flavor. It’s best served over rice with plantains. Find the recipe here.
Poisson Yassa (Fish Yassa)
This Senegalese dish has great, bold flavors of lemon and mustard. It can be made with many types of fish. It’s hard to pin down which fish was used was in the original recipe, but tilapia and salmon taste great in this. Since the dish has strong flavors it tastes great with a mild green tea with mint. Find the recipe here.
Sardines and Greens Stew
Here’s an excuse to use canned food in a recipe, but it will taste completely fresh. Canned sardines often come to America from Morocco, and are used in a lot of stews throughout central Africa. If you don’t like sardines, you can replace them with the smoked, dried or salted fish of your choice for this recipe. The tomatoes, garlic and hefty serving of greens soak up the salty flavors of the fish really well, and the dish should be served with plantains, rice, fufu or some starchy side that balances out the salty dish. Find the recipe here.
Liboké de Poisson (Fish in banana leaf)
Wrapping fish, chicken or beef in a banana leaf is very common in African cooking, but since fish easily picks up the flavors of what it’s cooked with, it tastes particularly good in the sweet banana leaf. This dish is very simple, juicy and flavorful because the little leaf package locks in the spices and moisture of the other ingredients. Find the recipe from here.
Capitaine and Pili-Pili in Palm Oil
The capitaine (also known as the Nile perch, mbuta, African snook or Lake Victoria perch) is a prized fish in Africa. It’s found in Lake Chad and the Nile and Congo rivers. In this dish, the fish is mixed with two popular Congolese ingredients: hot pili-pili peppers and palm oil. The best part — it’s just a five-ingredient recipe. The minimal ingredients really let the flavor of the fish stand out. You can add tomatoes, okra and green peppers to get your vegetables. Find the recipe here.
Oyster dishes are rare in native African cooking. The few that do exist probably came from European expatriates during colonial times. However, today oysters are on menus all around Kenya (and the rest of Africa). This recipe is a spin on the original in Bea Sandler’s The African Cookbook. The flavors are rich and with half a cup of butter, the recipe isn’t exactly light. But it’s worth breaking your diet for. Eat them as you would any oysters, with lemon wedges and hot sauce. Find the recipe here.
Fish Ball Stew
You’ve had meatballs, matzo balls, and now you can try fish balls. The fish balls can be made with any kind of fish you like because they’ll just end up tasting like the delicious stew. The stew is colorful and nutritious with tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and cabbage, plus you can add pumpkin or sweet potatoes if you like more color and sweetness. It tastes delicious over rice, or with your favorite bread dipped in. Find the recipe here.
Groundnut Stew with Smoked Fish
This is such a satisfying dish. It’s just a combination of soft foods and sweet flavors in a big bowl. The smoky flavor of the fish mixes perfectly with the sweet flavors of the peanuts. The fish becomes flaky and soft in the sauce and when poured over rice, it’s a comforting treat. Find the recipe from here.