Marginal, Maputo, Mozambique
There's nothing like picking out your own fresh fish and seafood fresh off the boat and having it cooked virtually on...
There’s nothing like picking out your own fresh fish and seafood fresh off the boat and having it cooked virtually on the spot.
That’s what you get at the Maputo fish market on Avenida da Marginal. It’s considered
unmissable by some seafood lovers who visit or live in Maputo, but it’s only fair to say that not everyone is a fan.
The entrance to the market is unassuming. Once inside, you’re faced with the near-
impossible task of choosing from row upon row of more fresh fish and seafood
than you’ve ever seen in one place.
We’re talking clams that squirt you as you walk by, calamari, and tiger prawns, crayfish
and fish such as steenbras, Simon fish, red snapper and black rock cod. White steenbras is
considered critically endangered in South Africa due to illegal overfishing, but you can get it at the Maputo fish market.
I went to the fish market around 1:30 p.m. and it was not crowded. I’ve heard the best
time to go is around 6 p.m. when the fishermen return with their catches of the day.
Bargaining is expected. Once you’ve chosen your fish and seafood, you can
take it home with you or move into another part of the market where you won’t have any problem finding a someone to cook it for you. Again, you’ll need to choose from many restaurants.
I’d heard that the vendors and cooks can be aggressive in vying for customers’ attention,
so I went to the fish market with a local who gladly haggled for me with the fishmongers.
I also knew in advance who was going to cook my seafood, based on a recommendation of a South African businessman who loves and frequents the market.
He said I should buy crabs and then go find a woman named Belinha to cook them for me. “Go all the way to the back of the market and then turn left,” he said.
I bought two kilograms of Mozambique blue crabs and a tomato rock cod that weighed 1.2
I found Belinha very quickly, and handed the fish over to her. The food preparation
cost can be negotiated and should be done before the cooking is done. You can also have the restaurant prepare side dishes and drinks to go with your meal such as salad and french fries, beer and wine.
We sat at a table under shady trees in a central courtyard waiting for the food to be
cooked. A parade of vendors came by selling peanuts, fabrics, key rings, wood carvings,
painted bowls, DVDs, and more. They were all very gentle in their approach, and it was fun.
This was the ultimate slow food. An hour later, the blue crabs arrived in a delicious
sauce of garlic, vinegar, butter, lemon, and spices.
Twenty minutes after that, the tomato rock cod was delivered in a tangy, buttery lemon
Some people have complained online that this market is not clean. It helps to get things in
perspective. This is a fish market, not the frozen-food section of the grocery store. I’ve
heard it can get messy there on a rainy day, even for the most stalwart of fish market
fans. The day I went, the weather was good.
Including food preparation, the cost of the fish and seafood, and the tip, I paid $33.50
— a bargain compared to other restaurant experiences I’ve had in Maputo.
I’m with those who say the Maputo fish market is an experience totally worth the trip.
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