Friday, December 10, 2010

Day 85! Kenya-Samaki wa Kuaanga (fried fish), Sukuma Wiki (Greens) & Rice. Up Next, Kirbati

Semper aliquid African adferre.
(There's always something interesting coming out of Africa) ~ Pliny the Elder

It's been a while since I've cooked a meal from the African continent. Tonight's meal of Samaki wa Kuaaga (Swahili for fried fish) and Sukuma Wiki  (collard greens-translated, means 'to push the week' - implying food used to stretch the week), with a side of rice was simple and surprisingly delicious. 

Many years ago, I worked with a woman who made the best collard greens (affectionately referred to as, Malissa's Greens), I've ever had. She used the perfect proportion of turkey wings, ham hocks, sugar and vinegar to cook up a pot of melt-in-your mouth greens. I won't claim that mine were close to being that awesome, but I think she'd approve :)

Located in the eastern part of Africa, Kenya borders Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania as well as the Indian Ocean. Kenya is internationally known for its vast wildlife and savannas and is home to 42 different ethnic tribes.

Interestingly, Kenya's culinary history is one dominated by oral tradition handed down through generations. In many tribes, men do more of the cooking than women. Black eyed peas, ground nuts, bananas, coconuts, beans, greens, casava, yams, ginger, cayenne and okra are all commonly eaten foods and spices Kenyan's enjoy.
Garlic, lime&lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper make the marinade

I like plenty of cayenne along with garlic in the marinade mix

Collard greens are loaded with vitamins and full of flavor

Samaki wa Kuaanga (Kenyan Spicy Fried Fish) -Adapted from

  • 2 pounds fish fillets (I used Talapia)
  • 1/4 cup lime or lemon juice
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (or minced jalapeño or Serrano peppers) 
  • Oil for frying

  1. Add the fish, lime/lemon juice, garlic salt and cayenne pepper to a large, non-reactive bowl and set aside to marinate for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the fish fillets from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Fry the fillets in the hot oil until browned on each side.
  3. Serve with Sukuma Wiki

Sukuma Wiki ("push the week" collard greens)
  • Oil, or bacon fat (I minced about a 1/3 cup bacon)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 pounds leafy greens, destemmed and chopped (I used collard greens)
  • 1-2 cups water or stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pot.  Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the greens in batches, sauteing and stirring each addition until it is fully wilted.
  2. Add the water or stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently until tender, from 25-45 minutes depending on the type of green.
  3. Adjust seasoning and serve with a little bit of the broth, or "potlikker". 
Final Assessment: This was deceptively simple fare that I thought would be plain, but turned out to be delicious and satisfying as well as healthy and light. A+


KK said...

yum !! love me some collard greens....

OysterCulture said...

I just love good greens, and these just sound delicious. I'm also a fan of talapia and I have got to say spicy with lemon and peppers and garlic sounds well, just about perfect.

sadie said...

Thanks ladies! I think greens are one of those things that you can only perfect if made regularly - little pinch of sugar, little pinch of soul, little shake of pepper :)

Cathy said...

Hey Sarah,

I am sitting in my studio with a gentleman named, Job, who is originally from Kenya. As Job and I were discussing health and nutrition, I decided to show him your blog.

Job likes the recipe you chose, the photos, and the history you touched upon of Kenya.

Job says that you've got the Sukuma Wiki "down right!" ..."push the week ahead" is common for many families... Job says that it later became a staple food in Kenya for those with money, as well as those without money. (kind of like "our" hotdogs...)

sadie said...

Hi Cathy: Job's comments are the highest compliment I could hope for. I'm so glad he felt it was authentic. Thank you both for taking the time to read and comment! Push the week ahead, huh? I'm intrigued!