West African Fish Stew by Lynda Murray
This recipe has been passed down my Guyanese family for several generations. It has 5 ingredients plus coarse sea salt and olive oil, nothing more and certainly nothing less. This is a slow cook stew but well worth the effort.
If you want to make this stew really special then add fresh prawns at stage 7, preferably not farmed ones as they don’t have the flavour. The fish stalls in Hastings have prawns that are caught, cooked and frozen at sea, they are firm and full of flavour and at £2 a pint very good value for money.
Quantities depend on how many people you are feeding, this recipe is for 2 people.
2 – 4 mackerel depending on the size, gutted with head and tail removed but leave the bones (they are removed later).
500 g – 1kg fresh tomatoes, you will need more or less depending on how ripe they are. Fully ripe to over ripe are best in this stew.
100 – 200g okra, more or less depending on how much you like them, remember this is a fish stew so the fish should dominate.
Birdseye chillies, de-seeded. The amount is up to you – use more if you like it hot.
2 medium-sized onions, finely sliced.
On no account be tempted to add any other flavours or ingredients. These 5 items will make a fantastic stew
It is important to cook the ingredients in the correct order
- Cook the mackerel first. Cut each whole fish into 3 – 5 chunks making sure the skin is dry and the oil is hot. Frying is best but the chunks can be grilled, the most important thing is to get the fish very crispy as it will be rehydrated in the sauce later on. Make sure the bones get crispy. You have 2 options now: either leave the bones in the fish as they will add more flavour to the stew and when they are crispy they are easy to spot (plus the bones are in fact very tasty to eat), or lift the bones out when you have finished frying the fish and before you add it to the stew, either method works.
- Put the fish on kitchen paper and set aside.
- In another pan pour in the olive oil, add the sliced onions, sprinkle with sea salt and fry until browned.
- Add the chopped de-seeded chillies.
- Quarter the tomatoes and add to the cooked onions. Put a tight lid on and leave to simmer until you have a yummy sauce.
- Add the okra and cook for another 10 mins. This is the time to start cooking your favourite rice.
- Add the crispy, de-boned fish and leave to simmer for 15 – 30 mins. If you are using prawns then this is the time to add them, making sure you have removed the shell and eggs, and all the other ingredients are cooked.
- Eat with the rice or, if you have forgotten to cook some, just dive in and enjoy.