Try Something New and Delicious with African Fish Recipes

Bowl of Watermelon with Feta

African cuisine and dishes are as diverse as their countries, communities, and family traditions. With 54 countries, 3,000 different ethnic groups, and an estimated 900-1,500 different languages, the continent of Africa has so many different styles and layers of unique foods. Many stigmas still surround African foods that deter many from sampling its rich flavors, which we think is a bit of a shame.

Many traditional and authentic African foods do away with utensils and require the use of fingers, or Fufu—a dough-like starch stable found across West African cultures. It is often eaten whole or used as a vehicle for soups and stews. Don't let a lack of utensils discourage you from trying new, delectable dishes!

We're excited to share a few mouth-watering African fish recipes to help expand your palate and try something fresh and new. Are you ready? Let's go!

Thieboudienne: West African Fish and Rice
Thieboudienne, pronounced 'ceebu-jen,' is considered Senegal's national dish and is a meal that is made and eaten in the rural, coastal areas of Senegal. The dish's primary ingredients consist of fish, such as Grouper or Snapper, rice, tomato sauce, and regional West African vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, cassava (yuca), eggplant, cabbage, okra, onion, garlic, and hot peppers. It's seasoned with other regional herbs and spices like parsley, tamarind, and dried fish flavoring like nététou or a local seed that is fermented called sumbala.

If nététou and sumbala are unavailable or there is a flavor that isn't to your taste, this dish can be made without it and still be delicious. This recipe is highly forgiving, and if you can't find suitable vegetables, you can use any you like and still have a flavorful dish bursting!


  • 1 and ½ cups of broken rice
  • 4 large fillets or pieces of grouper or snapper
  • 3 mashed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 bunch of parsley, crushed
  • 1 large carrot peeled and cut into medium pieces
  • 1 sweet potato peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves finely minced and divided in half
  • 1 small eggplant, sliced
  • 1 small cabbage cut into 4 pieces
  • ½ cup peanut, canola, or other high-temp oil
  • 2 Maggi cubes
  • 4 Bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of nététou (Optional if available.)
  • 2 Tablespoons of smoked fish flakes or shredded/ground smoked fish
  • 2 Habanero peppers (optional, sub with a less spicy pepper if needed) seeded and diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 okra
  • 6 cups of hot water

How to Cook:
Fish Stuffing (if using whole) or marinade:

  1. In a food processor, mortar, and pestle, blend and crush the parsley, half the garlic, and 1 Maggi cube, plus salt and pepper to taste with a spoonful of oil.
  2. Cut slits into the flesh of the fish and stuff the puree inside, or slather fish fillets with the puree. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours, reserving any leftover puree.

The Tomato Sauce:

  1. Heat oil in a large soup, stew, or dutch oven pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, tomatoes, tomato paste, black pepper, and leftover garlic. Cook for roughly 15 minutes.
  2. Remove from fridge and add stuffed or marinated fish into tomato sauce.
  3. Add a Maggi cube, bay leaves, nététou, smoked fish, habaneros, and 1 cup of water.
  4. Simmer until the grouper or snapper is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

The Vegetables:

  1. Remove fish from tomato sauce and set aside.
  2. Add all vegetables except for the okra, add 1 cup of water, and cook until vegetables are tender, approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Ensure the vegetables are fork-tender and cooked before removing them, then remove them from the sauce and add the okra with 1 cup of water.
    Cook no more than 5 minutes to avoid overcooking the okra, and remove, and set aside.

The Rice:

  1. Cook the rice in a separate pot according to the instructions.
  2. Drain the rice if needed and place it into the sauce. The tomato sauce should just cover the rice. Adjust by adding more water if required.
  3. Cover the pot and simmer on low-medium heat for another 15-20 minutes. At the 15-minute mark, check the rice to see if it has absorbed moisture and is soft. If not, cover and cook for five more minutes.

To Serve:

  1. Spoon rice onto a plate.
  2. Spoon vegetables and fish on top of rice, sprinkle with additional salt and pepper if needed and parsley for garnish, serve and enjoy!

Other African Fish Recipes You Need To Try:
There are so many delectable fish dishes! Here is more for you to add to your expanding repertoire of recipes:

  • Liboké de poisson, Fish in Bananna Leaf
  • Sayadeya – Yellow rice, spices, onions, tomato sauce, and white or bluefish baked in earthenware pots.
  • Poisson Yassa, Fish Yassa or Caldo. Whitefish, rice, onions, garlic, mustard, spicy peppers, and lemons.
  • Babenda. A one-pot dish featuring bitter greens, fermented locust beans called soumbala, mashed with smoked fish and combined with rice.
  • Ladob. A dish based on plantains, breadfruit, and cassava can be prepared as either sweet or savory.
  • Ayamase or Green Ofada Stew. Mixed meat, bell peppers, shombo, hot peppers, and crayfish stew.

Over the last decade, numerous entrepreneurs from around the globe have been bringing tastes of Africa to new places in America by investing in African restaurants, cookbooks, and more. With Wholey, we hope to provide some of the most captivating African and international foods by sharing some of our favorite recipes with you to help expand your taste horizons.

When it comes to all things food, we're passionate about everything from where it comes from and how it's cooked to inspiring everyone to find new unique meals to bring to the table. Suppose you're ready to try Thieboudienne or any of the suggested African fish recipes suggested to expand your palette. In that case, we're prepared to deliver the freshest-tasting fish to your door.