Cornmeal Coo Coo Recipe

October 6, 2020
This is a classic Caribbean side dish.

This coo coo recipe is cornmeal simmered in coconut milk, creating the perfect side dish.


Whole image of coo coo out of the dish

Here is the perfect, no fail coo coo recipe.


A dish that pulls on the African heritage of the Caribbean islands.

It is the Caribbean polenta.

Full of cornmeal, okra, pumpkin all folded together to make the perfect creamy dish.

I had a love-hate relationship with coo coo (also spelt cou-cou).

I wasn't too sure if I liked it enough to take a big piece of it when it was made. But now, I would easily eat a few slices in one sitting.

What is coo coo?


This dish was introduced to the Caribbean islands by African slaves.

Called coo coo, or cou cou by the Winward islands and also known as fungi by the leeward islands.

It consists of cornmeal and okra as the main base. Some of the most inexpensive ingredients they could find. 



Over time it has been fancied up a bit and can now include pumpkin and mixed vegetables and they all are steamed down and mixed together with coconut milk, to create a smooth pie-like dish.

It is a simple dish that is made off of a great combination of flavors.

Oh and don’t forget to use your wooden spoon to mix.

Actually, coo coo was made using what is called a “coo coo stick” which looked like a cricket bat. I always use a bamboo spoon to make my coo coo.


Coconut milk in a cup, cornmeal in a bowl and a bowl of mixed vegetables

How to make coo coo 


Making coo coo calls for a little patience and some strength, but it is a pretty easy process.

Using fresh ingredients as usual is the best thing. 

Fresh pumpkin, okra, and even the coconut milk if you can. 

Adding mixed vegetables is optional.

Some islands do not make it with okra. When that happens it’s most often called fungi or fengi. 

To me, without okra creates a different texture dish. 

We need to get the okra, pumpkin, tender prior to adding the cornmeal. So we get that boiling in the coconut milk to start.


Coconut milk in a pot boiling with okra


Once they are tender, okra pink in color, we take it off the stove to add the cornmeal. 

Add the cornmeal in sections. Mixing it in to smooth till the next set is added.

It’s easier to get a smooth texture that way. After the cornmeal is incorporated, adding a little hot water and putting it back on the stove to steam really helps to bind it all together.

cooked coo coo in a dish setting

 
Once the mixture is smooth and starts to form 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.



coo coo with some seafood creole on a plate


What to pair this with?


Coo coo is most popularly paired with some sort of fish dish.

It can be fried flying fish or even stewed fish.

This combination is so ideal that it is the national dish of Barbados: Coo coo and flying fish.

It is also great paired with some callaloo.

In Trinidad and Tobago, there is no coo coo unless callaloo is included.

I like mine to be covered with some form of gravy be it with some stewed fish, some tomato sauce from my fried fish, or gravy from seafood creole.

Tips & Tricks


I prefer to use fine-grain cornmeal for this. It makes it easier for the cornmeal to cook.

A brand I love is parmarosa. Iberia is another good brand.

After adding in the cornmeal to the seasoned milk mixture, adding some hot water in for it to steam really helps in setting the mixture.

The cornmeal needs to cook and steam, so adding hot water around the edges gives it the time to steam and not burn.

You have to whisk fast for this. If you want to have a nice smooth mixture, whisk as quickly as you can.

 
Coo coo out of the dish sliced so you can see the inside



Storage and reheating


Coo coo uses coconut milk, something I take no chances with as it relates to spoiling.

If by the next day I have leftovers I wrap in plastic wrap then place in Ziploc bags and place in my freezer.

To reheat, I use the microwave.

If reheating from the freezer, I just get it to room temperature first, then heat in 45-second increments till warmed through.





coo coo recipe, fungi, cou cou
Sides
Caribbean, Afro Caribbean,
Coo coo recipehttps://jumprope.com/g/coo-coo-recipe/oKFast0TCoo Coo (cou cou or fungi) is the Caribbean version of polenta. A boiled cornmeal dish with coconut milk and ochro. Ideally paired with some stewed fish.
Yield: 8
Author: Renz
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Coo coo recipe

Coo coo recipe

Coo Coo (cou cou or fungi) is the Caribbean version of polenta. A boiled cornmeal dish with coconut milk and ochro. Ideally paired with some stewed fish.
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 20 MinTotal time: 30 Min

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup sliced okra
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup peas and carrots (optional)
  • 1 cup cubed pumpkin (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup hot water

Instructions

  1. Bring water and milk to boil
  2. Lower to a low boil and add okra and boil till tender
  3. Add pumpkin if using
  4. Add peas and carrots
  5. Remove from heat and add cornmeal in batches.
  6. Mixing quickly to make as smooth as possible
  7. Once combined, add 1/3 cup hot water and cover on a low temperature to steam for about 5 minutes (add more water if needed)
  8. Add mixture to well-greased pie dish
  9. Smoothen out in the dish
  10. Using butter, continue to smoothen out the top
  11. Leave to set for about 10 minutes.
  12. Then release from the dish and serve

Notes:

I prefer to use fine-grain cornmeal for this. It makes it easier for the cornmeal to cook. A brand I love is parmarosa. Iberia is another good brand. After adding in the cornmeal to the seasoned milk mixture, adding some hot water in for it to steam really helps in setting the mixture. The cornmeal needs to cook and steam, so adding hot water around the edges gives it the time to steam and not burn You have to whisk fast for this. If you want to have a nice smooth mixture, whisk as quickly as you can.
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Renz HomeMadeZagat
Renz HomeMadeZagat

Hi guys, I’m Renz. I am the chief cook and bottle washer here at HomeMadeZagat. I am here sharing Caribbean recipes that I grew up eating and new ones I’ve fallen in love with over the years. I just want to showcase the amazing diversity of Caribbean food and that everyone can recreate these dishes.

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