Today I had my first Gambian cookery lesson. I’m a bit ashamed how long this has taken me. We made choo with fish. No, it’s got nothing to do with a nasty sneeze, ha ha! It’s a spicy onion stew type thing that is served with either meat or fish or sometimes fish balls which is pounded fish, bones and all, made into meatball type things (they’re nicer than they sound). I think choo has become my favourite dish or ‘my choice’ as the Gambians would say, overtaking domada even. Hopefully I was actually a little bit of a help and didn’t get in the way too much. I did manage to get covered in soot which everyone found very amusing. I would probably be more help if I stopped taking photos while I’m doing it mind. Next week I’ll be better.
So here’s how you make fish choo for about 10 people in the compound, 3 neighbors and a dog, enough for lunch and dinner:
De-scale and gut eight fish. Prepare your vegetables, maybe 2 potatoes, 2 chunks of cassava, a bitter tomato (weird tomato things that I’ve never had before coming here, not
the tastiest of things), and about an eighth of a cabbage. On your little wood burning stove heat up half a deep pan of palm oil. Deep fry the potatoes, cassava and fish. Pound black pepper, five cloves of garlic and about 10 seriously hot chillies to make a paste. Chop about 10 onions up (without a chopping board!) and mix them with the paste. When the fish and potatoes are done take them out of the oil and fry the onions. Pour water in so it’s half oil, half water. Boil for a while. Add the fish and potatoes and other veg. Boil for a bit more. When it’s done cook the rice, steaming it first and then boiling it. Serve in a 2 huge bowls, gather the rest of the family around and eat with your hands (or a spoon if you’re me! I still haven’t managed the whole eating rice with hands thing).
Let me know how yours tasted. Mine was delicious! Can’t wait to eat it again for dinner!
Note the ratio of vegetables and fish to how many people there are. Vegetables are relatively expensive so a little has
to go a long way. You have to eat a lot of rice to fill yourself up. With that and the fact that the stew is half water, half oil means the plan to come back home skinny and tanned is not going well at all!
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