Poisson Braisé is an Ivorian favorite. In coastal areas, fish is very affordable and is a popular after-work treat enjoyed in a maquis (or at home) with a round of ice cold beer.
4 lbs Whole Nile Perch, cleaned and scaled
2 tomatoes, cut into 4 pieces
2 lemons, juice of
2 medium yellow onions, roughly cut
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 scotch bonnet pepper, stemmed and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 Jumbo cube, crushed
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4-6 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
2-3 fresh lemons, cut into wedges
1. Wash the fish gently with cold water. Drain, and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Slit the fish (cuts should be about 1/2-inch deep, 3-4 inches in length) 3-4 times on each side and massage the fish (inside and out) with the fresh lemon juice.
3. Put tomatoes, onions, pepper, garlic, parsley and oil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel chopping blade. Season generously with salt, pepper and the crushed seasoning cube. Process until mixture forms a paste, adding additional oil, as needed.
4. Massage the fish generously with this mixture, ensuring that you push some into the cuts on both sides of the fish.
5. Leave the fish to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
6. Remove fish from marinade, reserving marinade juices, and grill over charcoal fire. (Alternately, fish can be broiled in the oven or cooked on a gas grill. However, the charcoal adds an additional layer of authentic flavor to the finished dish.)
7. Meanwhile, add remaining marinade liquid to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until mixture reaches a boil. Allow to simmer for 5-7 minutes to ensure marinade is thoroughly cooked. Serve sauce along with grilled fish. Garnish with sprigs of fresh parsley, and lemon wedges. Notes: If Nile Perch is unavailable in your area, you can substitute another firm, white-fleshed fish, such as Red Snapper. Jumbo cubes are available at African markets. They have a unique flavor which is not comparable to anything else. However, if you are unable to find Jumbo cubes, you could substitute a fish or shrimp-flavored Maggi cube. It is advisable to use fresh lemon juice in this recipe. Bottled juice can be substituted. However, it is more acidic and lacks the fresh flavor of the original. Serve with attieké (cassava couscous, found in African markets), couscous or rice.