The Perfect Bajan Flying Fish Recipe with Coo Coo from Barbados

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Are you travelling to the Caribbean and looking to sample the cuisine before you go? Or perhaps you’re feeling nostalgic about your recent trip to Barbados. Either way, this Bajan Flying fish recipe is guaranteed to please.

Bajan Flying Fish Recipe

I love these Bajan recipes that I picked up while on the island. It’s been a little while since I travelled to Barbados but the joy of recipes means that a taste of Caribbean sunshine is just one meal away.

This Bajan flying fish recipe with coo coo is a staple on the island, the kind of dish everyone grew up with. And it’s surprisingly easy to make.

I’ve noted any substitutions you may need but really get stuck in and give it a go. It’s easy, healthy and very good for you.

Preparing the coating for the fish

Is it Cou Cou or Coo Coo?

The words can be used interchangeably but I’m told that cou cou is the more standard form for Bajan recipes, while coo coo is more often found in Trinidad and Tobago.

If you’re reading this in the UK or US, then chances are you’re not going to find it all that easy to find the flying fish that skim and fizz over the waves near Barbados. Instead, substitute dover sole or lemon sole or flounder.

Art at the Bajan Recipe Cooking school in Barbados
The Bajan Recipe Cooking School is full of colourful artworks

Creole Sauce

The first thing you need to do is make the creole sauce.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into thin strips
  • 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
  • 2 green sweet peppers, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon Bajan seasoning (green shallots called allium ascalorium)
  • 8 ounces stewed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup stock – fish or vegetable
  • 1 tablespoon Pepper Sauce (turmeric, mustard, pepper, vinegar, salt, starch and hot local peppers if you don’t have a jar yourself)
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil in the frying pan until its nice and hot. Fry the onions, garlic and sweet peppers for around one minute until golden, then add the Bajan seasoning, tomatoes, sugar, stock and pepper sauce.

Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 -20 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

If you’re feeling fancy, garnish with chopped parsley.

Cornmeal Cou-Cou

While your creole sauce is simmering, you can turn your attention to the coo coo (or cous cous.)


  • Olive oil spray
  • 4 cups water
  • 12 okras or small courgettes, washed, stems removed, cut crosswise about 1/4 inch thick
  • 8 ounces FINE corn meal
  • Salt to taste


Grease a bowl with olive oil spray and reserve.

Pour 3 cups water into a pot, add the okra and salt, bring to the boil and remove from the heat.

Strain the okra into a small bowl and reserve the water in a separate bowl.

Place a small pot over low heat, add the corn meal with one cup of water to soften, whisking mixture until it is completely combined.

Reduce the heat and continue beating with a whisk until it begins to thicken. Gradually (I repeat, GRADUALLY!) add the water from the okra, whisking to incorporate.

After about 3 minutes, start beating the corn meal with a coo coo stick and add in the okra until they are thoroughly mixed in.

Serve with the creole sauce and flying fish. What flying fish, you ask? Ah yes, read on for more…

Learning about flying fish and cou cou in Barbados
Learning about flying fish from the experts!

How to Prepare the Bajan Flying Fish

Traditionally, this Bajan recipe would always use flying fish and would be served on Saturdays. Sadly, though, numbers have dwindled for a range of environmental reasons and so most people now use dorado as it’s easier to come by.


  • 12 boned pieces of dorado
  • 2 limes or lemons
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 6 ounces Bajan green seasoning (shallots and the spices mentioned above)
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup flour mixed with 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 cups oil for frying


Place the fish in a shallow container and cover with water.

Add the squeezed lime and salt and soak for 5 minutes then remove and pat dry with a paper towel.

Season in the grooves where the bones have been removed.

Dip in eggs and lightly coat with the flour and bread crumb mixture, shaking off excess.

Heat the oil in a shallow pan and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Serve with lemon plus the creole sauce and cou cou above!

Bajan Recipes - Flying Fish prepared in Barbados
The final product

Two Things to Know About Cou Cou

1) If a man finds lumps in his wife’s cou cou he can throw her out of the house

2) If a child misbehaves, their mother will run after them with a cou cou stick threatening them a damn good hiding.

And you thought it sounded like such a cute little word…

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