Tag Archives: fish

São Tomé weekend, part 2


We had three nights in São Tomé town (as I managed to book two nights at Makaira Lodge before realizing that is on the other island, Principe – whoops. Better planning next time). Nicer to be out of town, but it was interesting to see the town, and easy to do daytrips out. The town is a bit rundown, but cleaner than Accra (no open sewers, less plastic garbage) and there is a lovely waterfront. Old buildings, faded colours, and such nice people.

20170430_094419Of course we went to the market: vegetables, fresh fish, used clothing, plantains and bananas. São Tomé imports a lot of its food, but the local produce looked nice.


What we were looking for: peixe fumado, smoked fish. We’d had a delicious feijoada for lunch one day, bean stew but with smoked fish rather than smoked pork, and we had three Norwegians coming for dinner once we were back in Accra. So we wandered round the market looking for smoked fish: super friendly people, lots of fresh vegetables, no tourists. We found dried fish, and the dried fish seller took us over the smoked fish lady. I do not speak Portuguese, so was trying to explain in terrible Spanish/Italian/French that we needed enough for five people: we bought seven pieces in the end, to have a bit extra, and it was really nice quality. The lady on the next stall was drinking palm wine, which looks a bit milky, and she really wanted us to have a taste. Obrigada, no, I said, but was thrilled to have found good fish. Then we went to a cafe and drank some Sumol, ice cold Portuguese soda (pineapple, orange or passionfuit) which was wonderful. It did get get hot wandering around town.


We also went to Pico Mocambo, a rum bar recommended by a friend, for a glass of cocoa rum on ice. Not well signposted (Google Maps saved us) but well worth a visit. We were wandering around on 1 May, most places were closed so this was a nice break.


We also went to Claudio Corallo for a chocolate tasting. Very interesting: an Italian chocolatier, bean-to-bar chocolate and coffee. They do tastings three times a week, not easy to find out when but our hotel helped. Look for Chocolate Factory on Google Maps: it’s in a small restored house on the waterfront. Four euro for a ticket, get there by 1620 to get your ticket for the 1640 tasting – not room for many, and we really enjoyed the visit. The cocoa is grown on Principe, and the chocolate was just wonderful. We bought lots to take back. 😉

20170502_150903Definitely worth a visit: TAP flies Lisbon- São Tomé via Accra 3x a week, and direct from Lisbon once a week. Very friendly, nice place to visit and we experienced no begging (another nice change from Accra). I wish I spoke a bit of Portuguese, but we managed. Beaches and plantations, wonderful fresh fish (Papa Figo, 5 Sentidos, Mucumbli) and very relaxing. Green and lush, sea breezes and quiet.

Bring cash, there were long lines at the ATMs, and foreign cards did not always work. We brought USD and euros, and 100 USD changed to dobras (2.5 million dobras) was plenty in local currency. Many places have prices in euros and dobras. I got my visa online, many countries do not need one.

20170502_125059Grilled barracuda for lunch at Papa Figo. Wonderful!

Leve-leve, they say on São Tomé: easy easy. It was a great weekend.


Looking for prawns, Tema Fish Market

Tema fish marketYesterday we went to Tema, near Accra where there is a large fish market. Goal: find large prawns for Sunday lunch. Quite the the experience. Lots of fish, of various shapes and sizes. Four of us went, and it was interesting.

fish at Tema Some fish in bowls or baskets, some on sacks, some looking fresh and some else so. Eels, mackerel, red snapper, even some sharks at the water’s edge. All available to be bargained for. Much less hassling than I expected.

Tema harbour The harbour was full of wooden fishing boats with flags, I had no idea most boats used were so small here. They were building fishing boats as well there. And there were some random chickens with chicks even there, pecking among the scraps.


Not sure what fish this is, but it was all over the market. Here we stepped to the side as a hand-pulled cart was coming through, I was trying not to step on the fish. A little later a cart had overturned, spilling little silvery fish on to the group  – quickly being scooped up again. I suppose the some of the less fresh fish gets dried and used for shito (pepper sauce, usually includes fish, oil, ginger, dried fish, prawns, garlic – it is very good.)

Tema prawns

THESE are the prawns I was looking for! These were 50 cedi a kilo. Plus some calamaretti – next post, 15 cedi a kilo. Hard to know what the right price is, but these do look very nice.

We cleaned them all here this morning, cutting out the intestinal tract and de-shelling them,  Quite an exercise compared to small Norwegian shrimp. The prawns are currently in the kitchen, waiting to be cooked. Some have just been boiled with onion and garlic, under directions from our Egyptian neighbour. Some have been dipped in egg and breadcrumbs, ready to be fried downstairs. Then we’ll go to the Canadian neighbours and have lunch there. This is a nice part of compound living!

UPDATE: and here they are, cooked for lunch. Very nice!! I also made calamaretti in umido (small calamari in tomato stew) and we made deep-fried calamaretti as well, all lovely. But with half of our group out sick, including my poor husband (just a bad cold, he is in bed listening to English football), there is still food left. I think I’ll make prawn risotto with the leftover stock tomorrow.

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Pickled mackerel ricotta pâté

Mackerel ricotta pâté

Cooking is so often an issue of adaptation. Scandinavian cuisine has a multitude of smoked food, which I miss. In Rome we find some smoked cheese (like scamorza) and smoked guanciale and pancetta, but not smoked fish, besides imported smoked salmon. Last Christmas I bought a stovetop smoker for my husband) in the UK, which is very promising. We have smoked some mackerel and ribs, which were wonderful. More on that another day. Not all fish is good for smoking. Fortunately, each month some fellow expat Japanese friends import Japanese-style fish products from Holland, and I often order something, though I am not always sure what it is. Lots to learn, the flavor palate is interesting.

I really fancied a smoked fish pâté. We had fresh dill brought back from London, and a lone package of Shime Saba in the freezer from the last shipment: this is Japanese vinegar-pickled mackerel. Caught in Norway, pickled in Holland, shipped to Italy: terrible for food miles, I know, but tasty. Not smoked, but close enough to try. I wandered up the hill to the Roma farmers market to buy fresh ricotta for the pâté, and some rustic salumi (Italian cured meat products, often pork) for dinner. Lots of local producers, very nice and lots to explore. The salumi stand even had pork jerky, which had not seen here before. “Pizzico, pizzico!” said the lady, it was quite peppery. And then I made this pâté.

Pickled mackerel ricotta pâté

Inspired by How to make perfect smoked mackerel pâté on The Guardian.

120g vinegar-pickled mackerel, skin and all (no bones)
120g ricotta
1/2 tsp grated horseradish
1/2 tsp smoked salt
small pinch of fresh dill

If you don’t have smoked salt, use plain salt. Check for bones, then whizz it all in the food processor (skin and all) until it’s relatively smooth. A little texture is rather nice. Season to taste. serve with crackers or sourdough bread. The flavor was even better the next day, as  leftovers for breakfast, with poached egg.

Note: I buy smoked salt at the Mercato Centrale in Florence when I’m there, it’s called Sale Vichingo Affumicato. Usually followed by a slab of bistecca Fiorentina at Trattoria Mario, then a siesta. Fresh dill is hard to find here, I sometimes grow my own in the spring and freeze it. Otherwise I bring it from Norway or the UK.

I  just saw this recipe for Pickled mackerel with buttermilk snow, cucumber and dill  – it looks intriguing, with a Scandinavian-style pickled mackerel. Though finding buttermilk here  is a challenge (I approximate with milk and lemon juice, or vinegar)…….. I’ll keep that on the ever-expanding list of recipes to try, once the stars align with ingredients being available.