You have grown up being told that white meat is better than red meat.
I love the look, the taste, the many ways to cook it and most importantly the short time it takes to cook.
Sadly, the cost of red meat is cheaper than that of white meat in this part of the universe until when I discovered that the opposite is quite true actually. I found this out at my doorstep literally
You see, mama samaki sells fish (typically deep fried fish) the size of my palm at 200 bob ($2) thereabout.
So to feed five people, that means a huge figure that can buy me the large pack of diapers that would run me 3 weeks comfortably.
On this particular day I had bout $15 and I didn’t have Diapers and was craving fish. The thought of washing nappies was not being well entertained because it also meant I should always have bucket of water filled with powdered soap & bleach on permanent standby. I mean the cost of bleach in the long run will be equivalent to the diapers or even more deending on the severity of the user of the diaper. You get the drift.
My mind decided to gift me an early valentines gift by giving me a clear recall that a fish shop had opened up next to the local clinic. What next? My feet carried me over there naturally just to discover what a kilo of fish goes for $4.
Say it with me…. WHAAAAT!
It blew my mind literally.
This is the price of fresh, gutted and frozen fish.
Next question to the seller.
How many pieces make a kilo?
Answer; It depends on the size of the fish. Roughly between 3 to 4 pieces.
Ok. Weigh for me a kilo. No, wait. 2 kilos please.
I went home happy girl with 6 pieces of fresh, gutted and frozen fish.
A whole tilapia fish for everyone? I won the lottery.
I thawed them. Removed the scales by rubbing against the grain of the scales with a sharp knife & washed them again focusing on the gills. We eat everything on the fish except the bones.
- Should I deep dry? Nah!
- Should I bake? The oven is still broken 2 years later.
- Should I steam it? Nope. The devil is a liar.
- Should I grill it? Oh yeah!
I don’t have standard grill but a jiko will do for now.
- Balsamic vinegar – quarter cup
- Salt – a pinch
- Tumeric – half a teaspoon
- Pepper to taste
- Ginger & garlic paste
- Tomato paste – 1tbspn
- Olive oil 2-4 tbspns
Mix number 2-8 in a small bowl.
If you don’t like pepper, remove it. If you love heat, you can use either black pepper or chilli flakes.
On the fish cut 2 diagonal lines on one side of the fish and apply your marinade inside the cut.
Repeat on the other side of the fish.
Do this for all the fish. I had five.
If any of the marinade is left over, apply it inside the stomach area and on the gills. If more marinade is left over, don’t worry.
Cover the fish and let it marinate for 20 minutes to an hour or even overnight if you wish.
Heat up your jiko/smoker on medium heat. If using an oven, preheat it 180°C.
Place your fish on the wire mesh, place an oven safe dish beneath it to collect the drippings and bake for 20 minutes. Flip the fish at the 10 minute mark.
If using charcoal, heat it up & let it burn past its peak. Place your fish over the heat and start grilling. If you can, start grilling the head first. It takes about 5 minutes.
Why grill the head?
If you eat the head of fish, the gills need to be well done & dry.
Continue grilling the rest of the fish carefully ensuring that you don’t turn the skin black because the flesh picks up any smell.
The skin should be a light golden brown color. Then it is ready.
Flip & repeat the process.
For the Mombasa locals, grilled fish isn’t ready if coconut sauce is not present.
- Coconut cream (not milk). Locally known as tui.
- 1 onion.
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- Remainder/unused marinade or spices to your liking.
Heat oil in a pan & fry the onions till tender.
Add your spices/marinade, stir & let it cook for a minute.
Add the coconut cream and let it cook till oil separates.
It is ready to serve.
You can serve it as a side dish or apply it on the grilled fish generously as yoy plate it.