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Cou-cou and flying fish recipe

by Chef Jason Howard

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A traditional recipe passed down through generations, flying fish and cou-cou is honoured as the national dish of Barbados. This classic recipe for the fresh fish stew(here using sea bass fillets) and thick cornmeal or polenta, from Bajan chef Jason Howard, includes a recipe for homemade Bajan chopped seasoning – a wet, spicy seasoning flavoured with fiery scotch bonnet chili for a true taste of the Caribbean.


Flying fish

Bajan Chopped Seasoning

Fish Stew

  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp garlic, finely diced
  • 1 pepper, finely diced
  • 1 tomato, finely diced
  • 5g of thyme
  • 10g of curry powder
  • 5g of garlic powder
  • 6 tbsp of olive oil
  • 100g of unsalted butter
  • flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
  • edible flowers, to garnish (optional)
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Bajan cornmeal (cou-cou)

  • 140g of cornmeal, fine ground
  • 620ml of water
  • 4 okra
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme


  1. Begin by making the Bajan chopped seasoning as this needs to be made in advance. Place both types of onion, the garlic, ginger, scotch bonnet, thyme, mixed spice and lime juice in a food processor. Blitz to form a rough paste
  2. Transfer the paste to a jar and add the vinegar. Seal the jar and shake vigorously to incorporate. Season to taste and leave to infuse for a few hours before using – any remainder can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or frozen
  3. To prepare the fish, season the fillets well with lime juice and salt. Cover and leave to marinate for 10–15 minutes
  4. Meanwhile, begin the stew by placing the oil in a deep frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, pepper, tomato, thyme, curry and garlic powders and fry for a couple of minutes to lightly soften. Stir in 1 tbsp of the Bajan chopped seasoning along with the butter
  5. Rinse and pat dry the fish fillets. Season again with a little salt, pepper and garlic powder then roll each fillet up to form a cylinder. Place the rolls into the stew, cover the pan and simmer gently over a low heat for 12–15 minutes
  6. Whilst simmering, add the water, okra, onion and thyme to a large pan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Strain the water, reserving the okra slices and liquid separately but discarding the onion and thyme
  7. Place the pan back over a medium heat with the cornmeal. Whisk in the reserved water a little at a time to create a smooth mixture. Reduce the heat and continue to whisk vigorously until the mixture begins to thicken. Stir in the okra until fully incorporated
  8. Scoop the cornmeal mixture into serving bowls and top with a rolled fillet, spooning over the fish stew. Season to taste and garnish with the parsley (and edible flowers, if using) to serve

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