Packed with flavour, pelagic fish such as mackerel, sardines and herring are savoured across the globe for their fresh, minerally and umami-rich flavours.  

Indeed, in China, cold winter nights are passed with herring hot pot, both delicious and comforting in equal measure. In Norway, grilled mackerel with cabbage cream and apple slaw is a quintessential home cooked dish. And in Russia, on New Year’s Eve, families gather to enjoy shuba salad. Known colloquially as ‘Herring Under a Fur Coat’, this delicately layered pickled herring and root vegetable recipe is traditionally seen as one of the best ways to welcome the new year. 

It is clear that across the world, pelagic fish is a much-loved and staple feature at the dinner table, and Africa is no exception.  

For one, mackerel stew is a known favourite across Africa. Brimming with fragrant spices and tender fish, this stew is expertly balanced with fresh tomatoes and red bell peppers to make every mouthful count. Just one generous spoonful of this fiery stew is all it takes to awaken the senses and have them craving more. 

To create this powerful flavour, a blend of toasted spices and herbs are used. These spices can vary from region to region. Indeed, the Niger Delta blend can contain anywhere from 8 to 12 components, while the versions by cooks elsewhere often contain fewer ingredients. Regardless of how the stew is made, even the slightest alterations will lead to wonderful and surprising results. 

Affordable and Delicious Staples

Another favourite pelagic fish dish is smoked mackerel. This is sold at street food stalls across the continent at affordable prices, giving all the chance to sample the fish’s succulent flavour. The mackerel is roasted whole in dry grass with little or no flame, which slowly caramelises the skin to perfection while leaving the inside deliciously tender. Paired with a cold beer and pepper soup, you will always be left wanting more. 

It is not only mackerel that is proving increasingly popular across Africa. In fact, time and time again, the humble sardine is seen as a go-to ingredient. For instance, in Ghana, sardine stew is a family favourite, topped with a squeeze of fresh lemon and served with either yam, plantain or rice to bring the dish together.  

This sunny stew warms the soul but also serves as an inexpensive source of vital nutrients that help to lower the risk of heart disease and protect against certain cancers. Indeed, sardines are packed with nutrient rich Omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and vitamin B-12. 

But the pelagic fish dish most widely enjoyed across sub-Saharan Africa is of course, grilled herring. Smothered in spices and served with a hot sauce, whole grilled herrings are perfumed with ginger and spiked with potent chiles to make each mood-enhancing mouthful terrifically smoky. For many, this is a dish of pure nostalgia, where taking the first bite casts you back to family dinners at home. 

Africa for its rich flavour

Like sardines, herring is not only enjoyed across Africa for its rich flavour, but the fish is also loaded with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids help prevent heart disease and keep the brain functioning properly. Research suggests that herring effectively reduces inflammatory conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and arthritis. 

As delicious, affordable and highly nutritious ingredients, pelagic fish such as herring, mackerel and sardines are clear favourites across sub-Saharan Africa. However, to ensure fish dishes are prepared perfectly every time, high quality ingredients from trusted suppliers are essential. 

One such supplier is the industry-leader Norebo committed to supplying fish just as nature intended, with nothing taken away and nothing added, Norebo’s premium fish products such as its Atlantic horse mackerel, Atlantic chub mackerel, jack mackerel, and Pacific sardine are exclusively caught in the wild.  

This has several key benefits

 Indeed, wild fish eat only a natural diet, which means they tend to be slightly lower in saturated fat than farm-raised varieties.   

Importantly, to lock in this flavour and preserve the freshness and natural quality of its seafood, Norebo freeze their fish at sea aboard vessels within hours of it being caught. As a highly trusted supplier, it is clear Norebo’s premium products are the ideal components for dishes where fish is the focal ingredient, such as mackerel stew, smoked mackerel, or Ghanaian sardine stew.  

With these meals proving family favourites across Africa, demand for pelagic fish will only continue to rise. Providing not just sustenance and nutrition but comfort and inspiration, the possibilities for preparing pelagic fish are limitless. 

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