This recipe for Caribbean Fish and Chips with Tamarind Sauce is a flavorful take on Britain’s national dish. It’s gluten free, paleo, AIP and absolutely delicious.
I’m proud to collaborate with more than 30 Black recipe developers for this event. This Virtual Potluck explores Black food through the lens of Afrofuturism. Our collaboration of recipes explores the intersection of the Black diaspora via culture, future, geopolitics, imagination, liberation, culture, and technology.
Cook and share the inspiring recipes by checking out the list of participants below. Follow each participant and continue the discussion with us on social media using the hashtag #BHMVP2022!
For this Caribbean Fish and Chips with Tamarind Sauce recipe, I tapped into the foods of my Trinidadian childhood. I was also inspired by the creative process I use to develop recipes for the autoimmune protocol (AIP).
What’s the autoimmune protocol (AIP)?
If you’re new to this blog, all the recipes here follow the autoimmune paleo protocol. As a result, they’re free of grains, gluten, dairy, eggs, legumes, refined sugars, nightshades and nuts and seeds. AIP is a complimentary diet and lifestyle approach to autoimmunity and chronic illness.*
When I first began AIP to help manage my autoimmune disease, I gravitated to the foods of my childhood. These are foods like cassava, plantains, white sweet potatoes, coconut, and fresh fish. To reimagine popular North American and European foods, I looked to some of these staples found in the Caribbean. I’ve been able to re-create popular favorites like Grain free Cinnamon Rolls, Sweet Potato Lasagna, Sourdough Bread and now, this Fish and Chips with Tamarind Sauce recipe.
*Ballantyne S. The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body. 1st ed. Las Vegas, Nevada: Victory Belt Publishing; 2014.
Reimagining Fish and Chips through Afrofuturism
Crispy, flaky, piping hot fish and chips, is a whole mood! There is little not to love about this dish that’s often wrapped in newspaper and sold at the side of the road as takeaway food. But to reimagine this dish through Afrofuturism, I thought about the centrality of colonialism to Britain’s history – a history that is conspicuously absent in this national dish! Tea, on the other hand, is inherently bound up in Britain’s history of colonial expansion. Reflecting on the centrality of tea to English identity, Jamaican theorist Stuart Hall provocatively noted, “I am the sugar at the bottom of the English cup of tea. I am the sweet tooth.”
As such, this recipe for paleo Caribbean Fish and Chips uses ingredients from the African diaspora like green bananas instead of potatoes, tamarind and green seasoning. This move asks us to recognize the Caribbean and African peoples and economies that have made Britain possible.
Here are the unique ingredients in this Caribbean Fish and Chips:
- Green bananas – In this dish, green bananas replace potatoes as the “chips”. Don’t worry, there’s no sweet taste as long as you make sure you’re using bananas that are completely green. Growing up in Trinidad, I ate green bananas/green figs, quite often as a savory side dish. Across the Caribbean, we often boil green bananas and serve them alongside salted fish. In addition, green bananas can be used to make salad (think potato salad), or pickled with cucumber and onions in Souse. Outside the Caribbean, green bananas are staple ingredients in African cuisines, like Ugandan matoke.
- Green seasoning – Green seasoning is central to meat and fish preparation in the Caribbean. In this recipe, fish is seasoned in a medley of onions, garlic, fresh thyme, shadon beni/culantro or cilantro, green onions, lime juice and water.
- Tamarind – While tamarind is native to tropical Africa, it’s widely cultivated across India, Central America and Mexico. Tamarind is also very popular in Trinidadian cuisine and its sweet and tangy pulp is a delicious accompaniment to fish and meat. In this recipe, it takes the place of the tartar sauce!
What makes this fried fish “Caribbean”?
It’s all about the green seasoning! The green seasoning in this dish adds incredible flavor to the fish and in effect, is what allows me to claim this dish as “Caribbean”. To prepare:
- Add culantro/cilantro, garlic, onion, chives, thyme, lime juice and water to a food processor. Pulse until combined into a relatively smooth paste.
- Slice fish into six evenly sized pieces.
- Next, pour green seasoning onto fish fillets and season with salt.
- In a large bowl combine cassava flour, sea salt, garlic powder and carbonated water and whisk together. Do not over beat, as you want the mixture to maintain air bubbles inside.
- In a separate bowl, add the tapioca flour.
- In medium-sized skillet, add cooking fat of choice to about an inch high and heat over medium-high heat until 350F-375F. You can use a candy thermometer to test the temperature of the oil.
- Once the oil/fat is ready, dip each fillet of fish into tapioca starch, then into the liquid batter and immediately into the pot.
- Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the batter turns golden brown.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the fish from the fat and allow to drain on a wire cooling rack placed over a baking sheet. Serve immediately.
How do I reheat fish and chips?
I recommend serving immediately so you can really enjoy the crispiness. And if you do happen to have leftovers, reheat them in the oven preheated to 350F. Place the fish and fries on a wire rack over a baking sheet and allow to heat until crispy, about 15 minutes.
What is the best fish for fish and chips?
I like using cod or haddock in this recipe. They’re tender and flaky but don’t fall apart when frying. If you don’t have either of these, try halibut or pollock.
Can I use frozen fish?
Fresh is preferable, but if you have frozen fish, defrost it and dry it with paper towels before seasoning.
Tips for ensuring crispy fried fish:
- Ensure the oil is hot enough (350F – 375F is a good temperature).
- Avoid crowding the pot that you’re frying in, as that lowers the oil temperature.
- Avoid over-beating your batter. The carbonation is what you want to help create a light, crispy coating.
- Serve immediately so the batter remains crispy.
If you loved this recipe for Caribbean Fish and Chips with Tamarind Sauce, please leave a star rating and review. Snap a picture of the finished product and share it with me on Instagram! You can tag @healmedelicious and use the hashtag #healmedelicious.
Liked this recipe? Check out these other Caribbean inspired recipes:
- Beef and Sweet Potato Soup
- Stew Beef
- Trinidadian Callaloo
- Plantain Casserole
- Salted Cod in Coconut Milk
- Cod Fritters with Tamarind Sauce
- AIP Beef Patties
Here are some other recipes from other participants in the BHM virtual potluck. Many can be customized to be AIP/paleo!
- Chicken Plantains and Vegetables by Black Peoples Recipes
- Warm Brewed Zobo Drink by Dash of Jazz
- Sorrel Martini Popsicles by Dish It With Tisha
- Fish Patties with Pontchartrain Sauce by Dude That Cookz
- Bobo de Camarao (Brazilian Shrimp Stew) by Brazilian Kitchen Abroad
- Nigerian Chapman Cocktail by Immaculate Ruému
- Dragon Fruit Pineapple Rum Punch by Jamieson Diaries
- Vegan Coconut Cake with Lime Glaze by Chenée Today
- Mango Cake and Coconut Cream by Sims Home Kitchen
- Fonio Bundt Cake with Hibiscus Glaze by A Classic Twist