Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coo Coo for Cou Cou!

One of my closest friends lives in Barbados. I know very little about the Caribbean, so when we first met, she'd tell me all about their culture and (more importantly) food. She told me about her national dish, cou cou with flying fish, many times, but I just couldn't get a mental picture of it until I made it myself while testing for Caribbean Vegan. Please note this is one of the few recipes in the book that works better with special equipment: a cou cou stick. I got mine when I visited my friend in Barbados, but if you can't find one anywhere, you can also use a big wooden spoon.

Today's plant: Nori
Used in: Cou Cou and Tofish from Caribbean Vegan

 I'm so sorry that photo is so ugly. There's a GORGEOUS picture of this dish in the book, but I just can't help making it look like crap. Sorry.

Nori is the Japanese name for various edible seaweed species of thered alga Porphyra including most notably P. yezoensis and P. tenera, sometimes called laver. Finished products are made by a shredding and rack-drying process that resembles papermaking. Japan, Korea, and China are the current major producers of nori, with total production valued at up to US$2 billion per year.


There are four elements to this recipe: tofish, cou cou, Creole sauce and basil cilantro butter sauce. So it's daunting, it's fiddly and it's a  lot of steps, but it's not really difficult. And it's totally worth it.

The cou cou is mostly made out of fine corn meal with okra, so it's nice and sticky. It's comforting like mashed potatoes, without being mashed potatoes. The Creole sauce has a bit of a kick, which the basil cilantro butter sauce that the tofish is pan fried in provides a cooling contrast. The tofish itself is well-flavored with the nori and the rest of the spices and ends up with a really nice, crisp skin when it's all done. I can totally see why this is Barbados' national dish. It's delightful.

Depressing ocean fact of the day: sea turtles and other supposedly marine life in the Caribbean are nearing extinction due to poaching. Sea turtles are hunted for their meat and shells. Other species at risk are the queen conch (meat, shells and pearls) and coral (probably for tourist souvenirs).


Jeni Treehugger said...

Oooh that looks astoundingly good!

Mandee said...

Don't apologise for your photo, it looks so good to me! I really want to try this meal, I'm not keen on the idea of fishy-flavoured food but I'm going to have a go anyway!