Tapou (Fish, Green Banana, and Root Vegetable Soup)

  • Serves

    serves 4-6


Tender root vegetables and fried fish make this garlicky stew a satisfying meal. This recipe first appeared in our November 2012 issue along with Betsy Andrews's story Cassava Nation.


  • 2 lb. red snapper filets
  • 14 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 14 cup coconut oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1 (2") piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 12 tsp. sugar
  • 1 large ripe tomato, cored and minced
  • 5 cups coconut milk
  • 2 tsp. achiote paste, mixed with 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 green bananas, peeled, cut into ¼" slices
  • 1 small cassava root, peeled, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 ripe plantain, peeled, cut into ¼" slices
  • 12 oz. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 tbsp. roughly chopped cilantro, to garnish
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 12 cup flour
  • Cooked white rice, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving


Step 1

Place fish in a large plastic bag; add both juices, 1 tsp. cumin, and salt and pepper. Seal bag, and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Step 2

Heat coconut oil in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, bell pepper, and ginger; cook until soft, about 9 minutes. Add remaining cumin, oregano, sugar, and tomato; cook until lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add coconut milk and achiote paste mixture; boil. Reduce heat to medium, add green bananas and cassava, and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add potato and plantain; cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add shrimp; cook until just pink, about 3 minutes more. Sprinkle with cilantro; keep stew warm.

Step 3

Heat canola oil in a 12" skillet over medium heat; place flour on a large plate. Remove fish from marinade, dredge in flour, and add to skillet; fry, flipping once, until crisp and cooked through, about 12 minutes. Transfer fish to paper towels to drain. Divide fish among serving bowls, and top with some of the stew; serve with rice and lime wedges.

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