Written by 12:16 pm Food

Tru Bahamian Must Eat: Boiled Fish

Following an early morning of fishing within the islands or an animated late night celebration, the go-to treatment for many here in The Bahamas, is a steaming bowl of Boiled Fish or just ‘Boil’- as we frequently shorten it to. And don’t let the plain-sounding name idiot you; this hearty dish is full of flavour (and recovery powers), combining tender, flaky white fish with potatoes, lime and spices to tantalize taste buds and warm the soul. For breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this truly Bahamian dish is favourite across the archipelago and definitely value a try whenever you’re visiting Nassau.

Since Bahamian Boiled Fish is especially popular across the Christmas Holidays (more of our favourite holiday recipes here), we thought we’d round up a few of our alternative spots where you’ll be able to enjoy a bowl in the course of the season.

Origins Of Boiled Fish

a plate of food
Credit: Vinehoo

While it is tough to pinpoint where the tactic of boiling food originated exactly (though we’re sure that whoever created the pot ought to be praised), the genesis of Bahamian Boiled Fish as a dish might be attributed to our British and American influences. Poaching fish in a lemon and thyme broth has all the time been a standard a part of British cuisine, however the Bahamian approach to submerging the fish in water is essentially related to the “seafood boil” brought into the country by American Loyalist settlers from Southern US States comparable to Louisiana. While using shellfish is distinct from our use of white fish, Bahamian Boiled Fish has borrowed lots of the vegetables and spices related to a standard US seafood boil, including thyme and hot peppers. The confluence of of cultural influences has resulted in a deeply satisfying dish that may only be described as certainly one of the quintessential comfort foods of The Bahamas!

What’s In Boiled Fish?

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Credit: Meats, Roots, & Leaves

Bahamian Boiled Fish is often made with white, flaky fleshed fish, the most well-liked and traditional version being with Nassau grouper (on the bone). Nassau grouper is understood amongst locals to have a fragile, sweet flavor and a high oil content, which makes it very moist, yet firm enough to avoid falling to pieces during boiling. While grouper is indeed the popular selection for Bahamian Boiled Fish, due to its popularity, it does have a specific season during which it may be legally fished (between March and October is when you’ll be able to benefit from the sweet fish to your heart’s content). Mahi mahi, hogfish and gray/lane snapper are all other local fish types that function tasty alternatives for replacing Nassau grouper in the course of the closed season-recently identified by The Bahamas National Trust as between December 1st and February twenty eighth. Once the fish has been secured, the flavourful broth of the boil is seasoned with lime juice, thyme, bay leaf, a clove or two of allspice salt, and pepper, and stewed with a medley of yellow onions, celery, and potatoes. When ready, spoonfuls of hot broth are each zesty and comforting, making this dish the right complement to serve alongside grits, sweet island bread and butter or traditional Johnny cake.

When We Eat Boiled Fish

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Credit: Meats, Roots, & Leaves

You’ll find that Bahamian Boiled Fish is light on the stomach and subsequently, is often eaten after an evening of moderate to heavy alcohol consumption when a straightforward cup of coffee that morning is not going to suffice. Not surprisingly, Boiled Fish is amazingly popular during Christmas time following an extended night/early morning of having fun with our Bahamian Junkanoo Festival on Boxing Day and New Yr’s Day. Boiled Fish can also be served as a standard fish dinner during family gatherings, which occur almost every Sunday afternoon after church services. It’s also common to search out fishermen’s markets swamped with customers during Lent within the spring, as Boiled Fish is usually served on Good Friday when the Christian population foregoes meat (because technically fish are the “fruit” of the ocean) over Easter Holidays. With that said, Bahamian Boil’ might be found on breakfast menus of local restaurants and even food carts all year long and so long as you could have an appetite, there isn’t a incorrect time for having fun with it.

Listed below are a few of our favourite places to grab a soulful bowl:

Top 5 Places to Find Boiled Fish in Nassau

Charlie’s Nassau Stadium – Fowler Street off East Bay Street. Phone: (242) 394-0300
Oh Andros – Arawak Cay at Fish Fry in Downtown Nassau. Phone: (242) 326-7115
Bahamian Cookin’ – Trinity Place off Market Street in Downtown Nassau. Phone: (242) 328-0334
One & Only Ocean Club – Paradise Island Drive on Paradise Island. Phone: (242) 363-2501
Bahamas Cricket Club – Haynes Oval, Arawak Cay in Downtown Nassau. Phone: (242) 326-4720

How To Prepare Boiled Fish At Home

a bowl of food on a plate
Credit: TripAdvisor

Even when grouper or hogfish isn’t available, other white fish comparable to snapper or mahi mahi are typically available within the fresh or frozen section of your local supermarket. When the craving hits you- enjoy this straightforward recipe for Bahamian Boiled Fish!

2 lbs grouper with bone (or any preferred white fish)
2 limes
2 yellow onions
2 celery stalks
1 garlic clove
1 tsp ground thyme
1-2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 tbsp whole cloves
¼ goat pepper (Scotch Bonnet pepper or habanero pepper are tremendous too)
½ lbs potatoes, peeled and thickly cubed
Salt and pepper to taste

On a separate dish, season fish with lime juice, salt, and pepper. Fill a separate pot with two (2) cups of water and mix yellow onions, celery, garlic, thyme, butter, cloves, peppers, and potatoes. Bring to a boil after which cover and cook for quarter-hour, or until potatoes are almost done (just soft enough to push a fork through without breaking the potato). Add more water to fill the pot, if crucial. Add fish with lime juice and reduce heat to simmer the stew for 10 minutes, or until the fish begins to flake off the bone. Add salt and pepper to taste as needed.

Serving Suggestions
Bahamian Boiled Fish is often served with a side order of white or yellow-corn grits or a healthy slice of homemade Johnny Cake to take in the flavourful broth and really stretch out the meal.

Alternative Ingredients
Cabbage might be included so as to add more girth to the stew, but for a sweeter addition, throw two (2) sliced plantains (an exceptional pairing when using grouper or hogfish!) into the broth.

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