A Trinidadian style cornmeal coo coo dish made with okra, coconut milk and lightly seasoning mixed into a thick creamy consistency.
Cou cou is very popular amongst the English speaking islands, almost all of these Caribbean islands cook it, only the formula varies.
In case you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about let me brief you on this dish, firstly the spelling of the name – cou cou or coo coo is the same thing.
What is cornmeal cou cou?
Coo coo is a fluffy cornmeal dish made from ground cornmeal which is turned and folded with vegetables, coconut milk and mildly seasoned. In Barbados coo coo forms as part of the national dish served with flying fish.
I had the luxury of visiting Barbados (BIM) several times and a local guy took us to a place where they made the best cou cou in town. It was so nice I had to go back for seconds.
Do other Caribbean islands eat cou cou?
Also, the Virgin islands (British and US), Antigua and Barbuda consume cou cou, though they refer to it as fungi. Jamaicans refer to cou cou as turned cornmeal or tun’ cornmeal if you say it in patios – the recipe is a slight contrast to our Eastern Caribbean neighbors with the omission of okra. Many people like to add saltfish directly to the cornmeal as opposed to serving it on the side.
Well now that I’ve given you the low down on cou cou and the various names it’s known as in the Caribbean, let’s get down to business with cooking the darn thing. Okay this is the Trinidadian version of cou cou what seals the deal with this popular dish is the pimiento pepper.
What is a pimiento pepper?
Pimiento pepper is also known as a Trinidad cooking pepper. A slender heart shaped capsicum.
The pepper ranges in colour from light green to dark red or orange.
Trinidadian are quite found of cooking with this pepper.
Where can I purchase pimiento pepper?
Sadly I wasn’t able to get hold of any pimiento peppers so finely sliced up some red peppers to substitute the taste. I have since discovered costco sell them in a tray. I forgot to mention that the key ingredient – cornmeal is also known as polenta in other cultures, you may know it as that, it’s virtually the same thing.
Cooking tips for making cou cou
This recipe is very simple to make, however, when adding the cornmeal to the liquid you need to STIR, STIR, STIR – seriously give your arm a complete workout that’s how vigorous the stirring should be.
This is an important step to decrease the risk of lumps.
How much liquid should I use ?
I used 2 1/2 cups of liquid (coconut milk and water) which produced a fluffy/creamy texture, some like their cormmeal cou cou more dense.
If that’s the case then simply scale back the liquid, omitting roughly 1/2 cup worth of liquid during the initial stage where the okra simmers in the coconut milk.
What can I serve cornmeal cou cou with?
You can serve your cornmeal cou cou with a load of vegetables for a vegan option or stewed mackerel
- Polenta is also known as cornmeal
- Use red bell peppers if you cannot obtain pimiento peppers
- Make sure to stir constantly until the cou cou thickens to avoid lumps
Cornmeal Cou Cou (Trinidadian Style)
- 1 cup cornmeal fine and non GMO
- 2 Garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp of dairy free butter
- 2 cups of coconut milk
- 1/2 cup of warm water
- 1 small onion diced
- 8 okras sliced finely
- 2 tbsp of pimiento peppers or 2tbsp of sweet red peppers
- salt to taste
- Boil the coconut milk and then reduce to a low heat.
- Add the finely sliced okra and leave to simmer until tender, this should take 5-7 minutes, given the size of the sliced okra.
- Half way through tenderising the okra add the onion, butter, garlic and peppers, stir then continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Remove the liquid mixture from the heat, and begin to add some of the cornmeal while stirring rapidly. Tip - the quicker you stir the less likelihood of lumps forming.
- Return the pot to the stove, again adding the cornmeal in segments while stirring and folding until everything is incorporated into the pot.
- If the mixture is too dense add the water, slowly to determine your desired texture.
- Continue to cook for another 5 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the mixture is firm. Fine cornmeal cook relatively quickly compared to the course kind.
- Season with salt according to taste