My Thailand Smoked Fish Stew Recipe
I have made a new discovery, a fantastic one. A discovery that makes me both happy and sad. Happy for the love affair that has started and at the same time, sad that my discovery is not ‘Made in Nigeria’.
During the Eid break which I spent in Kaduna, I walked into the kitchen at my in-laws to see the most amazing smoked catfish ever. Clean, butterflied and its full length instead of the normal ring we find here in Nigeria. I was in food heaven. Anyone who knows me would understand because smoked fish is everything to me. A quick sauce, Nupe stew, veggie soup…all delightful with some smoked fish.
Let’s just say I’m in love with smoked fish.
Anyway, back to my new discovery. I asked where this beautiful specimen came from and I thought my Mother-in-Law was pulling my legs when she eventually answered. She made me have a taste first though—heavenly. Crunchy. Cold ijebu garri was mentioned I think while I was chewing too—I think.
It turns out that this amazing stuff comes from Thailand. Yes. Thailand. Asia. Perfectly smoked butterflied catfish. That made me sad. We should be exporting ours, especially some of the ones I have tasted from Kwara/Niger. Sigh. Our loss. Regardless, I was fortunate to be gifted some.
As the plane touched down in Abuja after my night away, I had a sudden craving so strong for Thai smoked fish. As soon as I got into the car, I called home and asked for the base of my soup to be prepped. I couldn’t wait.
I usually freeze some tatashe (red pepper) and tomatoes to make “Jajjage”. Note on Jajjage
Here’s how it goes – Ummm, please note that I don’t really specify quantities in recipes so do play it by ear. And taste as you go along!
Fry some thinly sliced onions in a lot of palm oil (really good palm oil is important here) and add your stock cubes at this point, if using. Once the onions start to cook, add the jajjage. I didn’t want the citrus note of tomatoes and have been avoiding very spicy food for a while so went with 5 tatashe only. Once that started to sizzle, I added iru.
While it’s cooking, pick up your yummy fish and give it a quick rinse under cold water. That’s all this needed. If you are using conventional smoked fish (hehehe), you might need to soak it in hot water for a few minutes. Break into huge chunks and add to your pot. Cover with enough water to cover most of the fish and cook covered for about 15 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
If you need to, add more water and cook for a few minutes longer if you want your fish softer. When the fish is cooked and you are fine with the amount of sauce/liquid, adjust seasoning by adding salt. A few months ago, an Aunt advised me to only add salt at the end of soup cooking, concentrating on stock cubes in the early stages. It has made all the difference. Don’t know the science behind it, but the flavours meld so much better this way.
The finished product was absolutely yum!!!
I had it two ways…..