Flying fish with red pepper sauce & cou-cou

Bursting with Caribbean flavours, this is the national dish of Barbados – serve with a side of cou-cou, made from polenta and okra

  • Prep:30 mins
    Cook:50 mins
    plus 1 hr marinating
  • Serves 2
  • More effort

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 477
  • fat 20g
  • saturates 6g
  • carbs 40g
  • sugars 19g
  • fibre 6g
  • protein 29g
  • salt 1.2g


  • 4 flying fish fillets (or 2 tilapia fillets), lightly scored
  • ½ tbsp finely snipped chives
  • small handful coriander, finely chopped
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • small handful coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 25g okra, stalk removed, thinly sliced
  • 50g polenta or fine cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • ½ celery stick, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1-2 tsp pepper sauce, shop-bought or homemade (see Goes well with)
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • small handful parsley, finely chopped
  • pinch of curry powder
  • 227g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1½ tbsp tomato purée
  • ½ tbsp golden caster sugar


  1. Mix together the green seasoning ingredients with a pinch of salt and pepper. Rub the fish in the seasoning, cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1 hr.

  2. Use kitchen paper to dab off excess marinade, then gently roll each fillet up into a pinwheel and secure with a cocktail stick.

  3. For the cou-cou, heat the oil in a small saucepan, add the onion and cook until soft (about 5 mins), stirring often.

  4. Add the garlic, thyme and coriander, and cook for about 30 secs, stirring continuously. Stir in the okra and sauté for 1 min. Add 300ml boiling water, reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 mins, topping up with more boiling water if the pan dries out. Remove the okra and onion with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  5. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Whisk in the polenta gradually, and continue to whisk until it is smooth, thick and starts to bubble – about 3 mins. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for 10 mins, whisking very often, until the polenta is cooked through. Stir in the okra and onion. Remove the sprig of thyme and discard. Add the butter and nutmeg, and season to taste.

  6. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion, celery and pepper, and soften, stirring often, for 5-10 mins. Add the garlic, pepper sauce, herbs and curry powder, and cook for about 30 secs, stirring regularly. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, 100ml water and sugar, and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15 mins, allowing the sauce to thicken a little.

  7. Place the rolled fish fillets in the sauce, cover and continue to simmer until just cooked through, about 10-15 mins, depending on the size of the fish. Divide the cou-cou between plates, spoon over the sauce and arrange the fillets on top. Eat immediately.

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