The Nile Perch, or ‘Captain’ as it is called here along Lake Tanganyika, is indigenous to a number of inland lakes of tropical Africa – and did not originate from the Nile. It can grow to over 6 feet in length and over 400 lbs.- and has a voracious appetite, eating other fish (including its own species), insects, and – for the fingerlings – plankton.
Because of its predatory habits, it is considered a serious invasive fish and where it has been introduced (like Lake Victoria in central Africa) and Australia, it has systematically reduced the population of other species.
The species has disappeared from northern Lake Tanganyika, along Burundi – both fished out and also the young fingerlings being caught in nets that are actually capturing ndagala, an indigenous fish that is similar to whitebait and that is very much-loved in Burundi..
Every week the Hotel orders a fresh Captain to be caught and brought up from the Tanzania shores of the lake to be cooked in the Sunday Buffet:
Here is a delicious and visually interesting way to present this fish: Bake it in a blanket of salt.
How to do it:
- Once thoroughly cleaned out, fill the inside with lots of garlic, onion, carrots, other vegetables to your liking, and lots of good olive oil
- Also rub the outside of the fish generously with olive oil.
- Do NOT remove the fishes scales! They help in the cooking process, maintaining the shape of the fish
- Make a thick paste of coarse salt
- Cover the fish carefully with a very thick layer of the salt paste, except for the end of the tail and the head
- Bake in a moderate over, length of time depending on the size
- Remember that once removed from the oven, it will continue to cook under the salt blanket
Let settle, and serve in your buffet
The taste is wonderful
N.B. This method also works with quite small fish, just adjust ingredients accordingly.
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