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Archive for September, 2009

Sole with Passion Fruit

September 30, 2009  |  Recipes  |  1 Comment

I thought I should write up a full recipe for the sole I mentioned in the maad post. This is actually the very last thing I cooked in Senegal, if you don’t count chopping up an avocado for a salad. A friend and I had been planning to get together for lunches since we both worked at home, but it never seemed to work out until the day before I left the country.

We went to the supermarket together to see what looked good for cooking, and the passion fruit caught my eye. Working from there and making our way to some nice looking sole in the fish section, this recipe was born.


  • 4 sole fillets
  • 2 passion fruit
  • 2 limes
  • 1 small onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Butter for frying

Empty the passion fruit into a shallow dish (I left the seeds in, but you can strain the pulp if you like) and add the juice of the limes, 1 tsp salt, and a bit of pepper. Add the sole to marinate for about ten minutes.

While the sole is marinating, dice the onion fine, and start heating up a frying pan over a medium high flame. Fry the sole in 1 tablespoon of butter per fillet. Do them one or two at a time, don’t crowd the pan. It will be quick, only a couple of minutes per side. After the first flip, throw in a bit of the onion.

When all the fish is cooked, add any remaining onion and let cook for a minute, then add in the marinade. Bring it to a rapid simmer and turn off the heat. Add one more tablespoon of butter and pour the sauce over the fillets.

Serve with bread and an avocado salad.

mad mad maad

September 22, 2009  |  Ingredients  |  6 comments

It looks like a yellowish potato that has lived a very hard life, and as far as I can tell it has no official spelling, but what it lacks in charm it makes up for in flavor. 100 francs will get you one fruit, cut open, with cayenne pepper and sugar sprinkled inside.

The shell is very much like a passion fruit, but more rugged, and the flavor recalls passion fruit as well, but intensely, powerfully sour. The Senegalese in my neighborhood did not seem to use it in any recipes, preferring to eat it out of hand. I found that the flavor went very well with seafood, replacing citrus one for one and adding a nice tropical flavor. It is also excellent in desserts. I wish I’d had the chance to make a sorbet.

To use in cooking, you have to get the juice separated from the large seeds and pulp. I ended up just mashing and stirring in a strainer for what seemed like hours, but if you are making a sweet dish, letting the seeds macerate with some sugar should make it easier.

This is not a fruit you are likely to run across outside of West Africa. A decent approximation is equal parts lime juice and passion fruit pulp (seeded or not, as you like). This is particularly good with pan fried sole. Let the fish sit in the mixture for ten minutes, then fry in butter with some very finely chopped onion. Add the marinade to the pan after removing the fish, bring to a simmer, and pour over top.

I actually bought maad out of season at highly inflated prices just to get a good picture, and then left them in the fridge for two weeks until they were entirely unphotogenic. They still tasted good though! The title photo is by Jonas Roux, under a CC attribution license.

Mango Onion Relish

September 20, 2009  |  Recipes  |  No Comments

This is a very simple recipe, but one of my favorites. For almost all of my life I was one of those people who hated cilantro. Then one day I made this relish, and now I am a convert.

While imported yellow onions are both more easilly found and often cheaper in the little boutiques in Yoff, the small red onions grown locally in Senegal have a great hot flavor. If you do not have access to them, I think a mix of red and white onion would work well.


  • 3 large mangoes. Ripe, but firm.
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tsp salt

Chop the onions and mango into 1/4 inch pieces and mix well. Add the lime juice. Toss in the cilantro and salt. That’s it!

An easy way to cut up the mangoes to this size is to cut them into 1/4 inch slices parallel to the seed with the skin still on. Then run the knife around the edge to remove the skin, and chop.