Thai Fish Cakes.
Mwanza is a Tanzanian city that I have visited several times through my work with CARE. It is a charming city. Aside from its large rocks, the main thing Mwanza is known for is its fish. Situated on the edge of Lake Victoria, Mwanza is famous for its tilapia.
All Tanzanians carry an explicit expectation that if you travel to Mwanza from Dar es Salaam you MUST carry back a fish bucket. This is an expectation I have adopted in kind. One time we even convincingly informed our dear friend Carolyn that she too must carry on this tradition. She dutifully returned to Dar es Salaam with a fish bucket she had checked as baggage on her flight back to Dar. Upon opening, the fish buckets literally explode with fish - they manage to somehow pack dozens into a modestly sized bucket. When Carolyn brought a fish bucket to our house, six of us feasted on the fish cooked up in a variety of ways, the simplest preparation proved the winning one - lemon, salt, fresh ground pepper and a pad of butter all baked on top of the whole fish.
On the receiving end of this fish bounty, our house boy has ever since endearingly referred to Carolyn as the "dada wa samaki" - the fish sister. On move in day to our new house, he pointed out which guest room the dada wa samaki would sleep in when she returns again with a fish bucket. Hint, hint, Carolyn:)
On my most recent trip to Mwanza, I carried home a fish bucket according to tradition, however, in this instance, my intention was to gift the fish bucket to our house boy as thanks for helping with our recent move in Andrei's absence. He gladly accepted the gift, however I suppose guilt got the best of him and he left 4 fish in our fridge for us, after cleaning them. We grilled them, we baked them, we fried them, and yet again we found ourselves overwhelmed with the amount of fish we had on our hands to consume. Pondering the possibilities for leftovers, I looked up the above recipe for Thai style fish cakes. Oh man, need I say more?! They were light and flavorful and well, clearly I am still talking and writing about them, so, I rest my case, get to it!
Photo courtesy of.