Recipes from Guinea-Bissau


Are you sick of turkey leftovers yet? Not me! I got 12 cups of chopped turkey out of our 21.4 lb bird, and that doesn't count what we ate. Of course, I freeze it and use it throughout the year--I guess if we had to eat all 12 cups this week I probably would be a little sick of it by now.

So it seems like I should be taking a break now that Thanksgiving is behind us, but alas, I'm not. Fortunately, this week's TbS meal was a fairly simple one, though sadly I cannot say the same about next week's.

Anyway, this week we're in Guinea Bissau, not to be confused with Guinea, Papua New Guinea, or Equatorial Guinea. At 14,000 square miles, it's one of those smaller African nations, shaped almost entirely by the slave trade. The first Europeans to arrive there were the Portuguese in the 16th Century, but they weren't allowed access to the interior part of Guinea until a couple of hundred years later. Instead they had to do their trading (slave trading) from the fortified coastal regions, which eventually became known as Portuguese Guinea. After independence in 1974, the country's name was changed to Guinea-Bissau (the "Bissau" half of its name comes from its capital city).

Cabuno, Bolama, Guinea-Bissau. Photo by Jose A. Herran.
So it's probably not surprising to hear that the food in Guinea-Bissau is African in nature but influenced heavily by the Portuguese. In fact I found my recipes using that old trick of searching for recipes in the language du jour, although Portuguese is actually only spoken by about 14% of the Guinea-Bissau population. It did help me find these recipes, though, so I'm not complaining.


Abacate com Tuna (Avocados with Tuna)
(This recipe is from The World Cookbook for Students)
  • 2 large, ripe avocados
  • 12 oz canned tuna, drained
  • 2 cups freshly grated coconut
  • 3⁄4 cup evaporated milk
  • 3 tbsp fresh tomato, skinned finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 1⁄4 tsp pepper
  • 2 lemons, quartered
Camarões à Guineese (Guinean Shrimp)
(from Roteiro Gastronómico de Portugal)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 lbs prawns
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and julienned
  • salt to taste
  • chilli or pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
Moqueca de Peixe (Fish Stew)
(also from Roteiro Gastronómico de Portugal

  • 2 lb fish
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 green or red pepper, cut into strips
  • Salt to taste
  • Chili pepper to taste
Bolo à Moda da Guiné Bissau (Guinea Bissau Style Cake)
(from Kitchenet)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp milk
We'll do the dessert first, because you know I always like to do things backwards.

First preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then cream the butter and sugar. Slowly add the eggs, taking care not to let them curdle. Now add the flour bit by bit, then the milk. Mix well and then transfer to a greased cake pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the top becomes golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Now for the avocados, which I served as a side though I think they are probably more of an appetizer:

First, cut avocados in half lengthwise and dig out the pit. Remove the meat and cut into small cubes. Reserve the avocado shells and transfer the cubed meat to a bowl.

Mix the tuna, 1 1/2 cups of the coconut, the evaporated milk and the tomatoes with the avocado. Season and mix gently. Chill for about 30 minutes.

Now stuff the reserved avocado shells with the filling and sprinkle with the remaining coconut. Serve with the lemon quarters on the side.

On to the shrimp.
First heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Cook until translucent. Add the shrimp and cucumber and cook until the shrimp just starts to turn pink.

Add the lemon juice, salt and chili powder. Now add the stock and let simmer until the shrimp is cooked all the way through (about five minutes). Serve over rice.

Finally, the fish stew. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then cut the fish up into pieces and sprinkle with a little salt, chilli powder and lemon juice. Let stand in the fridge for about an hour. Now transfer to an oven-safe dish and cover with the onions and peppers.

Mix the coconut milk with the tomato paste and then pour over the fish. Bake for about 40 minutes, checking frequently. Serve with rice.

This was a nice meal. Coconut milk, fish, shrimp, cake, you really can't go wrong with that unless you, you know, hate seafood. The only complaint I really had was that after 40 minutes in my oven the onions and peppers still were a little too crisp. I think I'd recommend softening them up in a frying pan before adding them to the dish.
I really liked both the savory dishes but if I'm honest, they weren't really particularly unique. Not everything has to be, though, so long as it tastes good.

Loved the cake but once again, it was a little generic. That didn't stop us from finishing it off in one night, though. I just wish we'd had some fruit to go with it, because it would have been nice with some strawberries.

But now, back to those turkey leftovers. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Next week: Gujarat, India

For printable versions of this week's recipes:



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