If you’re looking for an adventurous recipe to make this weekend, take this one for a spin. Below is a recipe for Thiéboudienne (CHEH bu JEN), or Ceebu Jën in Wolof spelling – the national dish of Senegal. This dish from this coastal West African country features two staples of the Senegalese diet – fish and rice.
This recipe, courtesy of (Saveur) includes a few harder- to-find ingredients. If you can’t find cassava root (also known as yucca or manioc), throw in a different starch such as potatoes, or even sweet potatoes. The fish sauce will add a distinctive flavor, but can be skipped. Some lime juice and brown sugar can also be used to get the sweet and tangy flavor of tamarind paste.
To eat, spread the food in a large shallow dish. For a more Senegalese experience, set the dish on a mat on the ground. Sit round the dish in a circle and carve a pie-shaped section with a spoon in front of you as you eat. If you’re willing, dig in with your hands, using only your right hand, making hand-sized balls of rice and fish, and eat!
FOR THE FISH AND STUFFING:
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
2 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 scallions, minced
¼ small yellow onion, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 (4–oz.) filets grouper or red snapper
FOR THE THIÉBOUDIENNE:
½ 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
½ cassava root, peeled and cut into 1 ½″ chunks
⅓ cup dried white hibiscus flowers (optional)
2 tbsp. tamarind paste
2 tbsp. fish sauce (available from Amazon)
4 cups basmati rice
Lime wedges, to serve
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. To serve, divide fish, vegetables, and rice among serving plates; serve with lime wedges (for squeezing over fish).