Poison, poison, c’est on belle déjeuner!
This song was one that my late mother would sing very often, especially when she was preparing fish. She prepared fish for us often, so we heard the song very often. We developed an affinity for fish and to this day, all four of us have a wonderful love affair with fish. I enjoy it steamed, roasted, salted, grilled, baked, sauteed, in couboullion, braff, and above all, I love it fried.
Growing up in Dominica, fried fish was one of my favorite ways to enjoy fish. We ate it with bread, bakes, crackers, fried potatoes, macaroni and cheese or any other staples and provisions. It wasn’t just any kind of fried fish. I was particularly interested in cooliw, snapper, flying fish, balaw and doward, in that order. To support my love of fish, I learned to fry fish at a young age. Also, due to my upbringing in a fishing community, it was a significant part of my diet. You can read about my fish stories here.
This past weekend, I decided to prepare some cooliw, which I bought at my local fish market and kept in my freezer for a couple of weeks. Since my kids aren’t too keen on eating fish, I usually get them excited, by preparing it jerked or fried fish. I also wanted to make it fun for them and added one of their favorite fried foods, plantains. Who doesn’t love fried plantains!
I prepared the fried fish and plantain fries meal and made it extra fun by including some adorable fries basket. The baskets just elevated the experience.
In Dominica, it seems that everyone fries their fish differently. I inherited some of the ways that I saw my mother and grandmother prepare theirs. It’s quite similar to how I made it. I use less seasoning than they did, as I prefer to keep it very simple.
Here’s my go-to recipe!
Simple fried cooliw recipe
- 3 lbs cooliw fish
- 1½ tbsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp tumeric sectioned
- 2 tbsp crushed garlic
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tbsp paprika
- chopped parsley
- 1 large Lime or lemon
- 1 cup oil Not olive since it doesn't break down properly
- Clean fish and don't forget to remove the stubborn scale next to the tail
- Use lots of lime or lemon making sure to rub each fish to help cut the fishy smell
- Don't rinse out all the lemon
- Add all your seasoning including half of the turmeric
- Transfer the fish to a ziplock bag or container that can fit in the refrigerator to marinate
- Leave it for 30 minutes to an hour. I left mine overnight to soak in the seasoning
- Mix flour, paprika and rest of the turmeric in a flat plate
- Toss slightly wet fish in flour mixture on both sides. The wetness should be just enough to make the flour stick, and not too much to make the crust doughy or cause it to "aggressively" react to the water.
- Fry until brown on both sides. If you like it more dry, you can leave it longer to get crispy. If you prefer it a little softer like I do, then brown to golden brown is just fine.