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Fish And Seafood To Look For In An African Store

by Jeffery Howard

Fish and seafood comprise a substantial part of the African diet. So if you want to make African cuisine at home, you're almost certainly going to need some ingredients from the sea. Visit an African store in your area, and keep an eye out for these fish and seafood items, in particular.


Snoek are large fish, related to mackerel, that can grow up to several meters long. They're commonly caught along Africa's southern coast. Snoek is an oily, bony fish, so it is often prepared via broiling or grilling. It is often added to longer-cooking stews, too. At an African store, you probably won't find whole snoek, but you may find filets and halves.


Kapenta are just about the opposite of snoek. They are tiny fish, similar to sardines. They are primarily dried out in the sun before being sold. Then, they are added to vegetable dishes and sauces, primarily as a seasoning ingredient. Once you've tried a dish made with kapenta, you'll come to crave their distinct flavor.


Shad are medium-sized fish often caught in the tropical waters around Africa. Usually, these fish are cooked whole, either via poaching or steaming, and served as a single portion. They have a light, tender flesh that may remind you of haddock or cod.


Langoustines are crustaceans that are midway in size between a crayfish and a lobster. They are saltwater creatures with medium-orange shells. Africans often stew them with ingredients like tomatoes and peppers. Since they are so hard to catch, langoustines sometimes come with a steep price tag. But if you can afford to buy a few, they're a delicious example of the best African cuisine.


Abalone, which are basically sea snails, are common in cuisines across Africa. In an African store in the U.S., you're unlikely to find them fresh, but you may find them frozen or dried. They're considered a delicacy, and they are only prepared on special occasions, often with rich sauces served over them.

As a continent surrounded by water, Africa has really developed a love for fish and seafood, and this love has shaped their cuisines. As fish from Africa is often shipped frozen and dried, you should not have trouble finding at least some of these varieties in an African store in the U.S. Whatever you end up with, make sure you cook it with passion and enjoy it.