Saturday, October 21, 2006

From Nigeria: A Fish Stew

Last December I spent 10 days eating (and working) in Abuja, Nigeria. I discovered that Nigerian food can be quite spicy, and that fish of one kind or another seems to sneak its way into most meals, even a serving a greens. I ate many things I didn’t like and a few I did.

By the end of the trip, I had identified several favorite dishes. First, there was moin-moin – a steamed cake of ground legumes studded with tiny fish and hard-boiled egg, and dyed a lovely rose color from the use of palm oil. I’d usually order moin-moin with a side of dodo, which are fried plantains similar to the ones you’d eat at a Cuban restaurant. I also enjoyed a wide variety of fish stews and soups.

The recipe below creates a fish stew that is rich and comforting – a simple, flavorful dinner on a chilly night. You should use a firm white fish for this dish. We used bream (a.k.a. tilapia), a fish found in Lake Kariba on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Nigerian Fish Stew
Adapted from Food by Country and Motherland Nigeria

Serves 4

1.2 pounds / 500 grams fish fillets
2 teaspoons salt, or more, to taste
1 tablespoon dried thyme, or more, to taste
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 small green chili, minced
1 small onion, chopped
½ cup tomato paste
2 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (palm oil, if you have it)
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Season the fish fillets with salt and thyme, and set aside. Place the red pepper, chili, onion, tomato paste and broth in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the oil and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 15 minutes. Slice the fish into ¾ -inch strips, and add them to the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve the stew over rice.


Maryam in Marrakesh said...

Carolyn, your blog is just adorable. Love your writing and everything sounds delish. I looked on your profile but couldn't find out much about you;-(

You should definitely feature food from Morocco - I am living in Marrakesh and we are cooking up a small storm here. Not terribly well but you must give us points for enthusiasm. Anyway, I have bookmarked your blog so I can come back.

Kalyn said...

Hey, a Moroccan blogger in the comment above this. Anyway, just wanted to say I'm really enjoying these glimpses into African food. This sounds like something I'd like.

Maureen said...

For about 10 years on and off I lived in Nigeria. We never discovered much of the food from the country except for curries, fruits from our yard and a fried crunchy peanut paste (or groundnuts as they called it)with hot chilies. This fish stew sounds lovely to try.

Nora and Nicolas said...

Thank you for all these nice dishes!!!!

Cheers from Madrid!

Nicolas and Nora

Carolyn said...

Hi Maryam,

Thanks for your visits and compliments! I am planning more Moroccan dishes - in fact, I just pulled out a few to try. I know I shouldn't be attempting couscous without one of those special couscous cookers, but I might have to risk it! If you have favorite dishes, let me know - I'd love to try them out. Really enjoyed your blog - I love your design sense and am sure your guesthouse will be just stunning. Would love to visit!

Hi Maureeen,

Peanuts are called groundnuts here, too. I have a few Nigerian recipes that use peanuts - you have inspired me to try them out!

Hi Nora and Nicholas,

Thanks, too, for your visits. I checked out your blog – it is very fun and whimsical...wish I could read French so I could check out your adventures in part 1!


David Anthony Durham said...


I had a craving for a West African fish stew this evening. I went to the internet, searched for it, and came across your blog. I made your recipe! It was simple, quick and very tasty.

Thanks for posting it!


Purple Star said...

I tried out this recipe and really enjoyed it. Thank you for posting it and check out my picture post on how it came out.


Negocio Desde Casa Mexcio said...

Fish stew mmmmmm :)-