Today I introduce you to coo coo. A dish that pulls on the African heritage of the Caribbean islands. Full of cornmeal, okra, pumpkin all folded together to make a side dish that pairs amazingly with some stew fish, or pork. This is not your regular side dish.
I had a love-hate relationship with coo coo growing up. I wasn't too sure if I liked it enough to take a big piece of it when it was made. Then my aunt with the "sweet hand" made it and there was no turning back after that.
Coo Coo or CouCou incorporates cornmeal, okro, pumpkin, all steamed down and turned to create a smooth pie with a great combination of flavors. What really adds to this dish is the use of pimento peppers (flavor pepper) that contributes to the unique flavor of this dish.
I mentioned that coo coo is ideally paired with fried flying fish. This combination is so ideal that it is the national dish of one of the Caribbean islands, Barbados (you know the place of the flying fish and Rihanna). It is also great with stew fish, and with callaloo. In fact in Trinidad and Tobago, there is no coo coo unless callaloo is included.
Making the coo coo calls for a little patience but it's pretty easy. Get the water, pumpkin and ochroes boiling until the pumpkin is tender. Once that is done add the soaked cornmeal and mix till smooth with coconut milk and pimento peppers.
Once the mixture is smooth and forming into a thick texture, it's time to transfer to a well-greased dish so that it can be pressed down into the shape of whatever dish you're using. And a little butter on the top to help smoothen it out.
Leave it for a little, then we are ready to slice
And ready to slather with some meat and its gravy.
I somehow need to douse my coo coo with gravy. Be it with some stewed fish, some tomato sauce from my fried fish or gravy from seafood creole. Even if I have callaloo, I smother my coo coo with it.
Isn't cornmeal versatile though?
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Cornmeal Coo Coo
Prep Time: 00:05
Cook Time: 00:30 mins
Keywords: steam entree side vegetarian cornmeal Caribbean African
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- 1 lb corn meal
- 2 lbs pumpkin (grated)
- salt to taste
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 3 pimentos (cut into small bits)
- 1 Tbsp margarine
- 1 Maggi cube (optional)
- 1 medium carrot (shredded fine)
- 4 ochro (okra), sliced
In a bowl place cornmeal and soak for 5 mins by pouring enough water to cover it.
In a strong pot bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add pumpkin, ochro, and salt and continue to cook until pumpkin is tender (about 10 mins).
Add carrots and pimentos and Maggi cube and stir in soaked cornmeal.
Stir until it is all blended together.
Add 1/2 of the coconut milk (1 cup) and cover.
Lower burner to medium, cook slowly.
After about 10 mins add the balance of coconut milk.
Stir. Make sure it is well-blended and no lumps.
Cover and let cook for another 10 mins.
Place in a buttered dish and press into shape.
Slice and serve with favorite meats or fish.