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Flying Fish and Cou-Cou–The Bajan National Dish

“I go cuckoo for your cou-cou, your flying fish is my favorite dish …”

Who knew that Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky did his Bajan culinary homework before flippin’ his verse on Rihanna’s “Cockiness” remix?

Whether you’ve been to Barbados a few times, or are heading down for the first time with us this November—leaving the island without eating it’s national dish of flying fish and cou-cou, is a bit of a crime. Because none of our contacts are able to agree on who makes the best (since they all think they, or their mom, does), we found the best recipe so that you can recreate the dish anytime you want via The Food Network. After shooting the link around, this recipe has been Bajan tested and approved, but you’re on your own when it comes to finding a cou-cou stick but a wooden spoon may just do the trick.

• 2 cups water
• 10 small okra, finely sliced
• 1/4 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/2 pound fine cornmeal

Flying Fish
note: Flying Fish, while awesome, is pretty much only found in and around Barbados so unless your local fish mongers imports, Tilapia is a good substitute. 

• 8 Flying Fish (about 1 1/2 pounds), scaled, boned, and butterflied
• 3 tablespoons Bajan seasoning (also called green seasoning)
• Lime juice, as needed
• Salt, as needed
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 2 large onions, sliced
• 3 cloves garlic, sliced
• 1 stalk celery, diced
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 tablespoons catsup
• 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
• 1/2 teaspoon mustard
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1 cup water or fish stock
• 1/4 green bell pepper, sliced
• 1/4 yellow bell pepper, sliced
• 1/4 red bell pepper, sliced
• 2 large tomatoes, chopped
• 2 tablespoons mixed chopped herbs, like dill, chives, parsley, and thyme
• 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce


Make the Cou-Cou:

Combine the water, okra, red pepper, salt, and hot sauce in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until very thick.

Transfer half of the okra mixture to a bowl.

Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to the okra mixture in the saucepan, and reduce the heat to low. While stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon, sprinkle in the cornmeal a little at a time, and cook until thick.

Add the remaining okra mixture and 2 tablespoons butter and stir until smooth. Cover to keep warm.

Make the Flying Fish:

Rub the flesh side of the fish with the Bajan seasoning and lime juice, and season with the salt, to taste. Roll each fish up tightly and secure with a toothpick.

Heat the butter in a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and bay leaf and cook, stirring, until soft. Add the catsup, curry, mustard, and sugar and stir.

Add the water, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer.

Arrange the rolled fish in the skillet and cover with the bell peppers, tomato, herbs, and hot sauce. Cover and simmer until the fish is just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, to taste.

Divide the cou-cou among the plates, make a well in each, and spoon the fish and sauce over the top.

Don’t miss your chance to enjoy paradise, Parlour style! Eat, Play, Love Barbados is Parlour’s fabulous travel deal giving you special discounted rates on top Bajan hotels, including The House, Colony Club and Tamarind, during the Food Wine and Rum Festival November 16-18. Join us!

Last 5 posts by Shannon Washington