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Adjust Servings:
For the "Flying Fish"
1 lb mild white fish Flying Fish is pretty much only found in and around Barbados; Tilapia or cod are a good substitute.
3 Tbsp Bajan Seasoning Also called "Green Seasoning"
1 lime lime juice
1 Tbsp butter
2 large onion
3 cloves garlic sliced or minced
1 stalk celery diced
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsps ketchup
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp spicy mustard
1 tsp sugar
1 cup water
1 red bell pepper sliced
2 Tomatoes chopped
mixed herbs dill, chives, parsley, thyme
For the Cou Cou
2 cups corn meal
2 cups water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion finely chopped
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 cup okra thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt add more, to taste
4 cups water
1 Tbsp butter

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Barbados: Flying Fish & Cou Cou

  • Serves 4
  • Medium


  • For the "Flying Fish"

  • For the Cou Cou



Flying fish and cou cou is the national dish of Barbados.  In fact, Barbados is known as “the land of flying fish” – it’s depicted on coins and in sculptures – but you won’t find it here in the United States.  Don’t stress – you can use another mild white fish instead.  You also won’t easily come by a “cou-cou stick,” the unique utensil used for its preparation, but again fear not – you can use a wooden spoon.

Because the main components of cou cou are inexpensive, the dish became common for many residents in Barbados’ early colonial history.  The dish has its origins in West Africa and is a great example of African influences in Caribbean cuisine. Cou-cou is traditionally served on Fridays at homes across Barbados and at local restaurants. In other island countries you may find this dish prepared without okra and going by “fengi.”

The Bajan green seasoning used on the fish is traditional in Caribbean kitchens.  If you can’t find it at a local mart, you can make it at home.  Don’t worry too much about letting it sit for days – I made and used it day of and it worked just fine.

Recipe Source: Parlor Magazine



For the Cou Cou

Soak cornmeal in 2 cups water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan and gently saute onions, garlic and thyme for 1 - 2 minutes. Add sliced okra and saute for 1 minute. Pour water into pan with onions-okra mixture and let boil for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the okra to a small bowl and set aside.


Pour out half of the liquid from the pot into a small bowl and reserve for later use. Turn heat to low/simmer. Add the soaked cornmeal, salt and butter; stir constantly using a whisk to avoid lumps and the cornmeal mixture from scorching.


As the cornmeal begins to dry out, add the reserved liquid in stages, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon until the cornmeal is cooked. As the mixture begins to break away clean from the sides of the pot, add back the okra and stir to incorporate fully. Let Cou-cou continue to cook until firm (but not stiff). The Cou-cou should break away easily from the sides of the pot; or when you insert the spoon in the middle of the Cou-cou, it should stand and remove easily from the mixture.


While the cou cou is cooking, prepare the fish

Cut fish into large bite size pieces and rub the flesh side of the fish with the Bajan seasoning and lime juice, and season with the salt, to taste.


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 ketchup, curry, mustard, and sugar and stir. Add the water, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer.


Arrange the fish in the skillet and cover with the bell peppers, tomato, and herbs. 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 an indent in each, and spoon the fish and sauce over the top.


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