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Ingredients

Adjust Servings:
For the Stuffed Fish
1/4 cup parsley finely chopped
2 tsp red chili flakes
6 cloves garlic minced
2 scallions sliced thin
1/4 cup yellow onion finely chopped
8 x 5 oz filets grouper
to taste salt and pepper
For the Rice & Veggies
1/4 cup red palm oil
1 large yellow onion chopped
1 large green bell pepper chopped
12 oz tomato paste
6 cups vegetable stock + more as needed
6 carrots sliced in half
1 large eggplant cut into large chunks
1 large turnip cut into large chunks
3 Tbsps tamarind paste
3 Tbsps fish sauce
4 cups basmati rice I used brown
3 lime cut into wedges

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Senegal: Thiéboudienne

Cuisine:
  • 2 hours
  • Serves 8
  • Medium

Ingredients

  • For the Stuffed Fish

  • For the Rice & Veggies

Directions

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Thiéboudienne (pronounced CHEH bu JEN) is the national dish of Senegal.  The name of the dish is the French transcription of the Wolof words ceebu jën meaning “rice” (ceeb) and “fish” (jën).  Wolof is a language of Senegal, but not the official language – that’s French.  Senegal was a colony of France until 1960.  Senegalese cuisine has many influences, from neighboring regions of Africa as well as the legacies of French and Portuguese colonialism. Many dishes in Senegal are single dish affairs, and this one is no exception – although two dishes if you count the one it’s cooked in and the one that it’s served on – family style.

The rice base is actually quite similar to creole red rice or jambalaya,  with the distinct additions of tamarind and fish sauce. Because it’s cooked in one pan, it develops a crunchy burnt crust at the bottom known as xooñ, sort of similar to what you’ll find at the bottom of paella.  On top of the rice is served pieces of grilled or pan-fried fish, stuffed with a spicy paste called rof.  There are many variations of this dish, and you can feel free to modify based on what vegetables you have on hand.  Traditionally this recipe would also include cassava root, hibiscus leaves, and fermented fish, but I didn’t have the time or energy for that kind of goose chase.  I was able to find tamarind paste at my local Yes Market, but you can also use lime and brown sugar in a pinch if you can’t find it. 

In Senegal, Thiéboudienne is an all day affair but I wasn’t expecting it to be one when I started making it for my family Monday afternoon.  As experienced a cook I am, for whatever reason I still struggle with rice.  I put the rice in at 7:15 expecting it to be finished by 8:00, but by 9:30 it was still chewy despite attempts to add additional broth, turn the heat off and let it sit, and cover it with a wet cloth to try to get it to simmer.  I think my mistake was that I stirred the rice numerous times toward the start. Apparently that’s a no no, but I was hesitant to have the rice burn onto the bottom of the pan after I’d just spent 30+ minutes scrubbing it to remove the charred remnants of a previous recipe.  Regardless, trust the process and hopefully you’ll have more luck than I did.

Once it finally was ready, this was a delicious and boldly flavored dish – sweet and savory with a little funk from the fish sauce. Strange as it may sound, the leftover rice makes a wonderful breakfast topped with a fried egg!

Recipe Source: Saveur

Steps

1
Done

Prepare the Fish

Mix together parsley, chile flakes, garlic, scallion, onion, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Using a paring knife, cut a 2″ slit lengthwise in each fish filet; stuff filets with the herb mixture, and refrigerate.

2
Done

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and green pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft and paste is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add stock, and bring to a boil.

3
Done

Reduce heat to medium-low, and add filets; cook until fish is just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove filets and transfer to a plate, then cover to keep warm.

4
Done

Add carrots, eggplants, and turnips, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a bowl; keep warm. Add tamarind paste and fish sauce, and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.

5
Done

Add rice, and stir to combine. If there isn't much broth remaining, add a couple additional cups. Reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, until rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Do not stir. Remove from heat, and fluff rice with a fork.

6
Done

Transfer rice to a large platter. Top with fish and vegetables. Serve family style with lime slices.

Johanna

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