Great African Eats: Grilled Chambo Fish, Malawi

Grilled Chambo Fish
Malawi "Chambo" fire grilled fish and "Mandasi a Masamba"

Malawian cuisine is based on the starch staple Nsima and its companion dish Ndiwo. Malawi produces fine tea too. And while this southeast African Republic is landlocked, its dominant feature is shimmery Lake Malawi, containing the greatest number of fish species in any fresh water BODY in the world – some 1300 species, most endemic. For fish foodies it’s hard to beat the lake catch of the day, fresh-grilled on the shore, particularly the ever-so-popular national favorite, Chambo. We asked magician-like chef Rich of Kaya Mawa, one of Malawi’s renowned resorts, to give us a recipe for this delicacy, and he graciously complied. Cooks can substitute bass or tilapia.

“Don’t complicate cooking the fish. Melt a knob of butter in a pan over medium heat. Add some finely chopped garlic and lay in the fish skin side down. Add a splash of lemon juice and season. Grill to just before the fish starts to flake. If you want a sauce to go with the fish, best to have either something a little Asian like this Sweet Coconut and Soy Sauce.”

1 oz. olive oil
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. ground ginger
4 tsp. sugar
Small handful of raisins
8 oz. coconut milk
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
Lemon juice

Add olive oil to a saucepan. Then add turmeric, ginger, sugar and raisins. Put on a low heat to dissolve the sugar and infuse the spices. Remove from the heat, add coconut milk and whisk rapidly. Add a tablespoon of soy sauce and a dash of lemon juice. If the sauce seems a little thin, thicken with a little roux.

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