Somalia – Fried Octopus and Mixed Vegetables

Fresh fish – the taste is different, comment a Somali family from Kishmayu, a fishing village on the Indian ocean. The ingredients are very simple and serve to heighten the flavour of the fish, Hasan explains.

Tariq describes how his father first took him out to sea at the age of ten to teach him how to fish, as his grandfather had taught his father. Close to shore they dived 10 or 15 feet into the water for prawns.  On moonlit nights they went further out, often leaving home at midnight.

In the busy fishing season the men of the village worked for the larger boat owners, spending two weeks and more at sea. When the waters became too shark-infested they would spend a week on an island, curing the fish that they had already caught. On a dreary winters’ day in Athlone, I try to imagine the colours, the taste.

Fried Octopus

  • Fresh octopus or squid
  • Red chilli pepper, powdered (quantity depends on taste)
  • Salt
  • Juiced lemon

Clean and slice the fresh octopus or squid and marinade for an hour or two in powdered chilli pepper, salt and lemon. Fry in hot oil for five minutes, taking care to cover the pan.

Mixed vegetables

  • Fresh peas
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Tomato puree

Dice the potatoes and carrots and boil with the peas until partially cooked. Finely chop the onion, crush the garlic and brown them in the pan with a little oil. Add the finely chopped fresh tomatoes, and then some tomato puree to thicken the mixture and give the dish a more vivid colour. Add the vegetables and simmer.

Serve with rice or chapatis.

Please see below the basic demonstration of the above recipe. Please note there can be a bit difference in the ingredients used.