Fish and Rice “Thieboudienne”

Thieboudienne (also ceebu jen or thiebou dieune) literally means fish rice in the Senegalese Wolafa language. The name hardly gives the dish justice! This traditional dish is made with rice, fish and tomato sauce and seasoned with onion, carrot, cabbage, cassava and peanut oil. Interestingly, a dish from the American Deep South called Savannah red rice is very similar – many believe it was brought here to the New World and adapted by the Creoles. Origins of Thieboudienne is considered the national dish of Senegal and is rapidly growing in popularity. By the way, that’s how you pronounce Thieboudienne (ceebu here). This classic Senegalese dish takes its name from the Wolof tribe, which means “rice and fish”.The origins of Thieboudienne are quite fascinating, although not as simple as one would like, since most of the history surrounding this delicacy has been handed down through oral tradition. According to one story, this dish was accidentally prepared by a cook at the residence of the colonial governor; rice was replaced by barley due to its scarcity. Another story tells that the origin of this dish is generally associated with St. Louis, where a variety called Thieboudiene Penda Mbaye was made in the 1800s.In Ivory Coast, Guinea and other French West African countries, the rice is called “riz graz”, but the dish is also similar to Jollof rice in Nigeria and Ghana. This dish quickly became a household favorite. It is full of flavor with so many delicious vegetables and spices. This is sure to be one satisfying meal and you don’t need to order the specials. Making Senegalese Jollof Rice and Fish Thieboudienne can be made with a variety of vegetables, so you can easily use whatever you like or have on hand. Thieboudienne requires some unique ingredients. Smoked fish adds great flavor (I bought it at my local African store.)Another is a spice called netetou, which is ground fermented bean. This spice has a strong unpleasant smell, but becomes completely umami-flavored when cooked. I recommend trying it and it is also used in many other Senegalese and West African dishes. Puree or marinade for fish is exceptional, I use it for everything else too. You can use any white firm fish, but the most authentic would be carcass or snapper. In addition, you can use whole fish or just fillets.If you are using a whole fish, stuff the mash into the slits, or if you are using fillets, you can marinate them in the mash, just save a little extra time. It needs to be refrigerated for a few hours to absorb the delicious flavor. They also use broken rice to make this dish. It is usually cheaper to buy because it is not native jasmine or whole basmati. Just remember when making this amazingly delicious dish that it’s completely customizable. Use the vegetables you like and get rid of the ones you don’t. I hope you make it and let me know how much you enjoyed it. It should be served and eaten on a large communal platter. Don’t forget to take a picture and tag me.

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