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Family fish dish

Caldo a delicious fish dish from Senegal

Last night I cooked up a Caldo for the family, a traditional West African favourite dish. My wife was seriously impressed so she wants the recipe, I dont really do recipies though as I mostly cook by feel and what I like, the dishes that remind me of Senegal and sharing meals with my big family. As a small boy in Senegal I would go help the fishermen hall in their catch at the beach and be rewarded with beautiful fresh fish, I would take my earnings home and this is the dish we would live to cook and eat. This Caldo of sorts was made from whatever I could find in the cupboards and freezer though traditionally in Senegal we make it with a fish called Rouget which I think is red Mullet, a very delicious fish indeed.

mullus Barbatus Rouget

This was not a planned dinner at all though, so I was using what we had to hand which was some pollock fillets from the freezer, not so glamourous but cheap. This recipe really worked well for the not so interesting pollock as the sauce has a lot of flavour to it ( there is some smoked salmon fillet there too, my wife had just returned with her reduced to clear prize from the supermarket so it went in the pot of course)

this is my sort of Caldo recipe

Serves 4

Fillets of fish ( I used pollock fillets ) Red Mullet would be delicious or sea bream, If using those fish I would keep them whole, slit the skin and rub the marinade into the fish then leave covered in the fridge for 2 hours then preferably grill or barbeque, delicious! but this is the family supper and the poor mans version.

I always serve this with plain white rice, we often use broken basmatti as it is cheaper and works well with other dishes like chembu yap where the rice is cooked in the sauce.

4 Pollock Fillet (or the lux version with whole red mullet, marinated as above and grilled or barbequed)
2 onions sliced
1 small green pepper diced
1 or 2 carrots depending on size diced to same size as pepper
1 lemon
2 Bay leaves
1 large tablespoon of smooth Dijon mustard
Marrigold Buillon powder or a good stock cube smushed
2 tablespoons vegetable or groundnut oil
1 or 2 fresh whole scotch bonnet chilli ( They go in whole and must not be pierced, take care that they do not burst when you are stirring the sauce. The scotch Bonnet give a great flavour to the sauce without too much heat if they are cooked whole, I like to put mine on the side of my plate to squish for the flavoursome juices and the heat.
Salt to taste at end of cooking
Ground black pepper a couple of pinch ( to taste )

Basmatti rice to serve with the dish ( we tend to use the broken basmati as it is cheaper and we like to use it with other dishes like Chembu Yap where the rice is cooked in the sauce.

First make a marinade for the fish. Mix the sliced onions with the crushed stock cube or buillon powder, add the tablespoon of mustard,the ground plack pepper, the bay leaves (ripped to release the flavour), I like to add some of the pared or grated rind from the lemon to the marinade too. Slather his all over the fish then add a tablespoon of vegetable or groundnut oil, cover and put in the fridge for a couple of hours to marinate.

When ready to start cooking, remove the fish from the marinade and put aside to grill or bake.

For cooking the sauce I like to use a low sided heavy bottom saucepan, I add a little oil and when just hot enough I add the onions from the Marinade ( with the bay leaves mustard and all) I cook for a minute then add the carrot and chopped green pepper, let this sweat through untill the onions are translucent stirring to prevent it catching. Then I add the tomatoes and if needed a small cup of water, stir and then add the scotch bonnet and let simmer with a lid on for 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile I prepare the rice and heat the grill or oven.

I tend to lightly wash the rice then add it to a saucepan with cold water reaching about 1 cm above the rice, add salt, then I bring it to the boil on a high heat. When the water has evaporated from the surface and small craters are starting to form as the steam escapes, I turn the heat right down as low as it goes and put a lidd on it, a heat diffuser matt is handy for this. I let the rice steam for 10 minutes or so ( I check it from time to time) the rice should be cooked and should fluff and separate with a fork) Whilst the rice and the sauce is cooking I get the fish ready either putting it under a hot grill or putting it in a suitable baking dish with a couple of tablespoons of water and covering it with foil then putting it in the oven ( this works well for skinned fillets)

Before serving I add the juice of a lemon to the sauce and check for easeoning then I serve it up with the sauce piled on the rice and the fish on the side with some sliced lemon and my lovely scotch bonnet to squish.


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