The national dish of Senegal, this boldly flavored combination of fish, rice, and vegetables simmered in tomato sauce is a hearty one-pot meal. You can make it with any fish or vegetables you have on hand, including potatoes, cassava, squash or pumpkin, and plantains. See the article Senegalese Shopping List for more information on the ingredients traditionally used in this dish. This recipe first appeared in our May 2012 issue along with John O'Connor's story A Feast For All.
For the Fish and Stuffing
- 1⁄4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 2 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 scallions, minced
- 1⁄4 small yellow onion, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 (4–oz.) filets grouper or red snapper
For the Thiéboudienne
- 1⁄2 cup canola or palm oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
- 1 (12–oz.) can tomato paste
- 6 cups fish or vegetable stock
- 6 small carrots, halved crosswise
- 1 large eggplant, cut into large chunks, or 4 small Thai eggplants
- 1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into 12 wedges
- 1⁄2 cassava root, peeled and cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
- 1⁄3 cup dried white hibiscus flowers (optional; see below for ordering)
- 2 tbsp. tamarind paste
- 2 tbsp. fish sauce
- 4 cups basmati rice
- Lime wedges, to serve
Make the fish and stuffing: 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 set aside.
Make the thiéboudienne: Heat oil in an 8–qt. 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.
Reduce heat to medium-low, and add filets; cook until fish is just cooked through, about 18 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove filets and transfer to a plate, then cover to keep warm.
Add carrots, eggplants, turnips, and cassava, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 40 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a bowl; keep warm. Add hibiscus flowers (if using), tamarind paste, and fish sauce, and cook, stirring occasionally, until hibiscus flowers soften, about 5 minutes.
Add rice, and stir to combine; reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, until rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat, and fluff rice with a fork.
To serve, divide fish, vegetables, and rice among serving plates; serve with lime wedges (for squeezing over fish).
_ Dried white hibiscus flowers are available via mail order from Nawel Keur Mame Asta Walo Halal Meat & Poultry Grocery (call or visit: 219 West 116th Street, New York City, New York; 212/222-7900)_