Thursday, 26 July 2012

Olympic Food Challenge: Central African Republic - Fish and Greens with Fufu

Tonight's Olympic Food Challenge meal comes from Central African Republic (CAR).  CAR is a land locked country in the heart of Africa so I was surprised to find this recipe for Fish and Greens.  It turns out that meat is scarce in CAR, so freshwater fish is one of their main sources of protein.

Z has had a great day trawling around Kirkgate Market, looking for the ingredients for the next few days meals and picking the knowledgeable brains of the stall holders.  The recipe for Fish and Greens does not specify what fish to use.  Having consulted the staff at R Bethell's fishmongers Z decided to buy catfish.  We have never had catfish before but the jolly fishmonger assured Z that we should cook the head as well as the steaks so that's what we planned to do.

When we opened the bag of fish there was no head to be seen so we just cooked what we had*.  The catfish skin was salted** and then fried in more oil than I would normally use.  Onions and garlic were added next and softened.  The final ingredients were a tin of tomatoes, spinach and seasoning.  The whole lot was simmered until cooked.

We served the fish with another first for tonight, the African staple, Fufu.  Traditionally, fufu is made of cooked cassava, yams or plantains which are pounded until they form a firm dough.  The staff at Spice Corner suggested that a packet of plantain fufu, made the same way as polenta, would be acceptable and much less time consuming than making it from scratch.

CAR have never won an Olympic medal even though they have sent a team to every Olympic games since 1984.  Perhaps one of their six athletes will bring home the gold this year.  Tonight's meal certainly did.

*a bit of a relief if I'm honest, the fishmonger's description of cutting the head in half so that the brain could melt into the sauce was a little off putting!
**to break down the slime!

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