Cou Cou from Barbados: The Barbadian National Dish

Barbadian Cou Cou served with Fish and Okra

Cou Cou is a Barbadian dish most often served with the Barbadian national food, flying fish. It slightly resembles grits or polenta, and consists of cornmeal, water, butter, spices, and okra. It is a great side dish to accompany fish and vegetables!

Cornmeal, okra, water, butter, spices… That’s all you need to make Barbadian Cou Cou. The Cou Cou is served as a side dish in Barbados, most often as an accompaniment to Flying Fish. It forms a thick porridge– think grits or polenta– and often accompanies fish and veggies as a yummy and healthy side dish!

Quite frankly, I was a bit nervous to make this Cou Cou after the whole…. Funje from Angola fiasco. I gotta tell you…. this recipe is far better.

Barbadian Cou Cou on plate

A Flying Fish Fiasco

I really wanted to make Flying Fish (the national dish of Barbados) this week to go with my Cou Cou, but, again, as I’m sure you’re familiar with by now… I live in the Midwest. And the midwest, though great in many lays, lacks in its impeccable access to Caribbean sea creatures. There was no flying fish to be found. In fact, when I called local fish markets to ask, a very typical response was “I’ve never even heard of that.” If you can find flying fish near you, leave a comment on this page, because now I’m curious as to if it’s available within the US at all.

(PS, in place of Flying Fish, I tried making Barbadian Bakes. These were phenomenal and were such a treat in our house. Click the link here to get the recipe).

When I researched recipes, I found a few that really complicated things. They said that you need to cook the cornmeal for 90 minutes in order to get the right consistency. But soon, I found and adapted a couple of recipes that quickened up the process. Instead of adding the water a little at a time, I added it all at once. From there, the mixture cooked for about 20 minutes, and it was ready! I’m proud to say that my recipe for this Cou Cou is soooo easy.

Close up of okra with Barbadian Cou Cou in the background

Testing and Serving Your Cou Cou

The best way to know of the Cou Cou is ready is the spoon test. First, the Cou Cou has to be thick enough that if you scrape it away from the sides of the pan, it stays there. Then, take the wooden spoon that you have been cooking with and stick it straight up in the middle of the Cou Cou. If the spoon does not fall over and you can remove it easily, your Cou Cou is ready to be enjoyed!

Now butter the inside of a small bowl and mould the mixture inside. Turn the bowl over onto a serving dish and let the Cou Cou drop out onto the plate. You’ll have a beautifully formed side dish ready to be enjoyed. To enjoy our Cou Cou, I also made some herb-crusted cod and a side of stove top okra and onions. This is NEVER something that I would eat on a normal day, but Barbados forced us to try new things (as these countries usually do)! And I had this meal as a leftover work lunch for three days in a row after that.

If you liked this recipe, you should also try Shandesh, a dessert cheese from Bangladesh or Muhammar, a sweet rice from Bahrain. If you make Cou Cou, take a photo and share it on Facebook and Instagram by tagging @TheForeignFork or hashtagging #TheForeignFork. Thanks for stopping by, friends! See you next week for Belarus.

Cou Cou (Barbados)

Cou Cou is a Barbadian dish most often served with the Barbadian national food, flying fish. It slightly resembles grits or polenta, and consists of cornmeal, water, butter, spices, and okra. It is a great side dish to accompany fish and vegetables! 

Course Side Dish
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water plus more for boiling
  • 1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
  • 4 okra pods
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 3 tbsp butter plus more for serving
  • 1 tsp salt plus more to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut the ends off of the okra pods.

  2. Boil about 6 cups of water. Once boiling, add the okra pods and continue to boil for ten minutes. After ten minutes, remove the okra pods and reserve two cups of the boiling water. Keep the 2 cups of boiling water on the stove at a low boil. 

  3. Mix cornmeal and 1 cup cold water together. Add mixture to the two cups of boiling water. Add seasoning and mix to combine. 

  4. After four minutes, add 3 tbsp of butter. Mix until the mixture becomes stiff (about twenty or so minutes). You will know when the Cou Cou is complete when you remove it from the sides of the pan and it sticks in place. You can also do the spoon test. If you stick a wooden spoon into the middle of the Cou Cou and it does not fall over (and is fairly easy to remove), the Cou Cou is ready. 

  5. To serve, take a single serving dish and rub with melted butter. Form the Cou Cou into the dish, then turn the dish over onto the dinner plate, leaving a mound of Cou Cou! Enjoy! 

Recipe Notes

Recipe copyright The Foreign Fork. For personal or professional use only. 

Bakes from Barbados: A Barbadian Elephant Ear

Barbadian Bakes

These Barbadian Bakes are made by combining flour, sugar, water, and some spices to make a stiff dough. Fry the dough in oil, and… that’s it. You have an absolutely mouth-watering dessert in under 10 minutes. And a tiny taste of Barbados!

I’m just going to say this before we move on. Today, my brother bit into these Barbadian Bakes and said “wow… I think this is the best recipe you’ve ever made for The Foreign Fork.”

He later edited himself to say, “well, that’s a lie… You’ve had some pretty awesome meat dishes. But this is definitely the best Foreign Fork dessert I’ve ever had.”

You wanna try it now…. Right?? And you should.

Hand Holding Barbadian Bakes

So What is This Magic Recipe??

These Barbados bakes are EASY. AS. PIE. to make and they are sooo good. They taste a little bit like donuts without being overly sweet. They resemble– both in look and in taste– mini elephant ears. Sweet, fried balls of dough in under 10 minutes. Seriously, what more could you ask for?

This recipe came from the blog The Crane.com, but it matches almost every other recipe for Bakes that I have ever seen. So simple, people. Flour, sugar, spices, and water. Then you fry them in some corn oil for about 3 minutes on each side, and you have yourself a delicious, sweet snack.

Barbadian Bake with Powdered Sugar

Barbadian Bakes…. Breakfast or Dessert?

My Michigander tastes have been comparing these Bakes to foods that we eat as dessert in America… donuts, elephant ears, etc. In Barbados, though, these Bakes are typically enjoyed as a breakfast food. They can be served with butter, jam, or powdered sugar, or you can enjoy them plain. Because of my elephant ear analogy, butter didn’t seem like the right option. Powdered sugar was getting better, but still not quite right. But the jam? Oh my goodness, warm Barbadian Bake with a spoonful of jam? I’ll gobble that up all day long. Plain is fantastic as well. Be creative! If you want to try serving them with some cheese, do it! That could be just as delicious, too.

If you liked this Barbadian Bake recipe, also check out this Coconut Bimini Bread from The Bahamas or this Kaiserschmarrn from Austria. Both compare to this dish by being delicious, sweet foods that us Americans would love to enjoy as dessert. If you make this recipe, tag @TheForeignFork on Facebook or Instagram or hashtag #TheForeignFork. LEAVE A COMMENT IF YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE PLEASE! You’ll make me so happy.

Bakes (Barbados)

These Barbadian Bakes are made by combining flour, sugar, water, and some spices to make a stiff dough. Fry the dough in oil, and… that’s it. You have an absolutely mouth-watering dessert in under 10 minutes. And a tiny taste of Barbados!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup- 1 cup water
  • corn oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the dry ingredients together. 

  2. Add the vanilla to the mixture, and a little water at a time until a stiff dough is formed.

  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan. 

  4. Grab a ball of dough and use your fingers to flatten the ball into a small pancake shape about two inches across. Fry the dough in the oil, flipping in between to brown on both sides. 

  5. Remove from the oil and leave on a paper tower lined plate to remove excess oil. Enjoy with powdered sugar, butter, jelly, or plain. 

Recipe Notes

Recipe from The Crane

Tropical Stuffed Avocados from Barbados

Overhead of Tropical Stuffed Avocados

These Tropical Stuffed Avocados feature the fresh flavors of the beautiful Caribbean. Avocado, mango, shrimp, and red onions combine to make a tropical, healthy, flavorful, and quick dinner. What more could you want?!

The Humble Avocado

Ah… the Humble Avocado. So creamy, so beautiful, so versatile. People are gettin’ all kinds of whack with their avocados these days, putting them in brownies and pesto and bread. All that is great and dandy (and interesting… i’d like to try those things), but really, no form of avocado is better than an avocado in its true form. Stuffed avocados are the way to my avocado lovin’ heart.

Tropical Stuffed Avocados

Origins of the Tropical Stuffed Avocado

I have a confession to make. TECHNICALLY these Tropical Stuffed Avocados aren’t a true Barbadian dish. Stuffed avocados do exist in Barbados, but they’re mixed with mayonnaise and celery and they just didn’t feel… fresh to me. When I think of Barbados, I think of fresh, cool fruits and vegetables. I think of healthy produce and delicious, tropical flavors. The mayonnaise in the recipes kind of threw me off. Mayonnaise makes me feel greasy, and when I think of Barbados, greasy is not what comes to mind.

So I took some creative leeway here and I came up with my own Barbadian Tropical Stuffed Avocado recipe. The ingredients are all common enough in Barbados that this dish could be made very easily there. Who knows, maybe they already do!

Tropical Stuffed Avocados

Recipe Adaptations

Either way, I don’t think you’re going to fault me too much, because these Tropical Stuffed Avocados are…. Delicious. I made them once to test for the blog and eat for dinner. Then I made them again the very next day to prep as a lunch for the whole week. Four days later and I still wasn’t sick of them.

If you want to add some extra crunch to this recipe, throw in a few crumbled walnuts! They would taste amazing. If you want to add a few more flavors of Barbados, toss in a little bit of thyme. And if you want to try the recipe the way it’s made in Barbados, throw some mayonnaise in the mix. I won’t fault ya for it, I promise.

If you liked this recipe, check out my recipe for Papaya Pie from Antigua and Barbuda or the Black Bean Cakes from the Caribbean. If you make this recipe, take a photo of it to share on Facebook or Instagram. Make sure to tag @TheForeignFork and hashtag #TheForeignFork. Thanks for stopping by! If you make these Caribbean Stuffed Avocados, leave a comment on my post. It would make my whole day!

Tropical Stuffed Avocados (Barbados)

These Tropical Stuffed Avocados feature the fresh flavors of the beautiful Caribbean. Avocado, mango, shrimp, and red onions combine to make a tropical, healthy, flavorful, and quick dinner. What more could you want?!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Caribbean
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 avocados gutted and chopped
  • 1 mango chopped
  • 11 oz cocktail shrimp chopped
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp red onion chopped
  • 3 tbsp cilantro chopped
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt plus more to taste
  • 3/4 tsp marjoram leaves

Instructions

  1. Remove the avocado from the avocado skins. 

  2. In a separate bowl, combine all of the ingredients. 

  3. Place the mixture back into the four avocado halves and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Recipe copyright The Foreign Fork. For personal or educational use only. 


Macaroni Pie from Barbados

Barbadian Macaroni Pie in two bowls

This Macaroni Pie from Barbados is the ultimate comfort food. Barbados has made macaroni and cheese their own by adding evaporated milk, ketchup, and honey mustard to the dish. This baked casserole is creamy, savory, and slightly sweet, with a perfectly crunchy breadcrumb topping.

A Personal Story

The Beginning: A Macaroni Love Affair

Mac and cheese– duh, one of the biggest comfort foods known to man. I don’t have to tell you that there’s nothing like sitting down to an ooey gooey bowl of creamy mac and cheese… you already know that. Everyone does!

When I was young, I’m pretty sure that my body consisted of 57% Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Every time my parents would go out for date night, they would leave the babysitter with a box of noodles, a package of neon powdered cheese, some milk and some butter. Kraft Mac and Cheese and chicken nuggets. Fish sticks with Kract Mac and Cheese. Kraft Mac and Cheese and pear slices. An easy lunch or dinner, and something I thought I loved.

Barbadian Macaroni Pie

What a Twist: A New Way to Enjoy the Mac

When I was about 12 years old, I was at our cabin in Northern Michigan with my dad and his lifelong friend. “Let’s make some macaroni and cheese for lunch,” he said. I was confused…. We had no Kraft in the house.

He boiled some water and added some noodles from the box. When the noodles were cooked, he strained them and put them back in the pot. He walked over to the refrigerator and removed a massive block of Velveeta cheese, which he chopped into squares and dropped right in the hot pot. He added a couple splashes of milk and some frozen peas and… Viola!

This macaroni and cheese was the creamiest, cheesiest pot of macaroni and cheese that I’d ever had in my entire life. Instantly I knew that the crap Mac and Cheese and I had eaten my whole life would never again suffice. Of course, I knew that Velveeta cheese still wasn’t the healthiest option, but my oh my was it good. In later years, I learned how to whip up a milk-based roux to make a creamy, delicious cheese sauce with real cheese.

Happily Ever After: A Mac n’ Cheese Snob Meets Macaroni Pie

From that day to this, I have been a mac and cheese snob. I enjoy it creamy, not baked; preferably without breadcrumbs but with peas.

That is, until this Barbadian Macaroni Pie recipe came along…

Get the Full Barbados Macaroni Pie Recipe Below!

Barbadian Macaroni Pie Up Close

Why is Barbadian Macaroni Pie So Unique?

I don’t like baked macaroni, but I love this recipe. I don’t like macaroni with breadcrumbs, but I love this recipe. Typically in any other recipe, baking with breadcrumbs makes the mac and cheese dry. But not in this recipe.

This Barbadian recipe with evaporated milk, ketchup, and honey mustard cannot help but be incredibly, perfectly creamy. Despite being baked, it is still oh-so-gooey and delicious.

Barbadians LOVE their Macaroni Pie. In fact, in Barbados, it’s just called “Pie!” The Macaroni Pie first came to be because of American influence on the country. As the years have gone on, Barbadians have made this dish their own. The evaporated milk (check out everything that you can do with a can of evaporated milk here) adds some sweetness to the dish, and the ketchup creates a vibrant orange color. I kept my Macaroni Pie recipe simple with just salt, pepper, and garlic powder, but you can also add thyme or marjoram to get that traditional Barbadian flavor.

What Ingredients You Need to Make This Macaroni Pie Recipe

You’ll feel silly for ever relying on the boxed junk once you realize how easy it is to make the best macaroni and cheese from scratch! With just a handful of basic ingredients you can create an amazingly creamy, flavorful dish that eats as an entire meal or is perfect for a side that compliments nearly any main dish.

Here’s what you need:

  • Pasta – I prefer Italian Trottole, but feel free to use whatever pasta type you like
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Evaporated milk
  • Ketchup
  • Honey mustard
  • Bread crumbs
  • Spices – salt, pepper, and onion powder
Barbadian Macaroni Pie in two bowls

Tips for Making Macaroni Pie from Barbados

This recipe is so simple to follow, but here are a few suggestions to make sure your macaroni and cheese is perfectly creamy with that crave-worthy crunchy top:

  1. I used Italian Trottole for this version, but you can choose another pasta if you prefer. It’s just wise to use something that is nice and hearty, like large elbow macaroni.
  2. Sharp cheddar cheese is my favorite, but feel free to try different cheeses and mix up the flavors! Let me know in the comments any fun combinations you discover.
  3. If you don’t have honey mustard you can swap with whatever mustard you do have like stoneground or Dijon. Your pie won’t be quite as sweet but will still have that yummy savoriness.
  4. Try adding a bit of thyme and/or marjoram to make this macaroni pie more authentically Barbadian!
  5. For an extra crunchy crust, gently spray the breadcrumbs on top of the pie with cooking oil before baking.
  6. This macaroni pie will keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months once completely cooled and sealed in an airtight container.

If you are at all a fan of macaroni and cheese, you’ve got to try making this dish for yourself!

And if you enjoyed this noodle recipe, be sure to also try this Vegemite Pasta from Australia or this Armenian Mantiabour. Please and thanks for leaving a comment on the blog post to let me know what you think!

Barbadian Macaroni Pie
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Macaroni Pie (Barbados)

This Macaroni Pie from Barbados is the ultimate comfort food. Barbados has made macaroni and cheese their own by adding evaporated milk, ketchup, and honey mustard to the dish. This baked casserole is creamy, savory, and slightly sweet, with a perfectly crunchy breadcrumb topping.

Course casserole, dinner
Cuisine American, Barbados
Keyword barbados, homemade macaroni and cheese, macaroni and cheese
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb pasta (I used Private Selection Italian Trottole but you can use anything you'd like)
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp honey mustard
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

  2. Boil water and cook the noodles according to the package until they are al dente. 

  3. Drain the noodles, then put them back in the pot. Add all of the ingredients except for the breadcrumbs into the pot and mix to combine. 

  4. Grease a 9×9 pan and put the macaroni and cheese into the dish. Top with bread crumbs.

  5. Bake the macaroni for about 35-40 minutes until heated all the way through and the breadcrumbs are slightly browned. Enjoy! 

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Barbados.org

Did you like this Macaroni Pie recipe? Post a photo of your creation on Facebook or Instagram and tag @TheForeignFork or hashtag #TheForeignFork.

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