Cou Cou & Flying Fish - Barbados' National Dish

Coucou & Flying Fish

Barbados' national dish is coucou and flying fish. This dish which is also another corn meal product like conkie, was traditionally served on Fridays or Saturdays.


Packaged cornmeal can be purchased at any supermarket in Barbados, while you can find the okras from a street vendor or outdoor market.


The coucou is stirred continuously with a coucou stick (a long stick which resembles a small replica of a cricket bat). It has to be stirred vigorously to ensure all lumps are out so that you can have a smooth, fluffy meal. However if you run into difficulties when cooking it, add more okra water if the cornmeal gets too tough and if it is too soft, allow it to continue cooking until the right texture is reached.


Traditionally coucou was served in an oval form. To obtain this shape it was placed in a round enamel bowl or in a calabash shell. Calabash is a large ball shape fruit of a tropical American tree. It has to be eaten while hot, but be cautious because it can burn you. Breadfruit, yam and green banana which are grown locally in Barbados can also be used to make coucou.


Barbados was called the 'land of flying fish' because of the plentiful amount of flying fish found in Barbados' waters and now the flying fish is Barbados' national fish. Its symbol is on our coins, in artwork and is part of the official logo of The Barbados Tourism Authority. In addition, the Barbados Coat of Arms shows a Pelican and dolphin, with the dolphin representing the flying fish.


The flying fish got their name not because they actually fly but that they use their fins to propel themselves when moving through the waters. This is particularly useful when they are trying to get away from predators. The flying fish is one of Barbados' most desirable delicacies. Any place where you would find Barbados nightlife e.g. Oistins, Baxters Road you are sure to find this fish.


Ranked No. 3 on National Geographic's Top 10 National Dishes

Described as: "a polenta-like cornmeal and okra porridge, coo-coo pairs perfectly with flying fish - once abundant but now overfished and scarce - which is either steamed with lime juice, spices, and vegetables or fried and served with a spicy sauce."


Let's face it, besides the good taste of coucou, here's one more reason why we should be always proud of our national dish.




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