Makayabu is the Lingala word for Bacalhau (Portuguese) or Bacalao (Spanish) also known as dried and salted cod. Salting food is probably the world’s oldest known food preservation method, which is probably the reason why dried and salted cod has been over centuries one of the most used ingredients in almost every part of the globe.
And Central Africa is no exception. In fact, Makayabu or salt cod is among the most popular ingredients in Central African countries like Gabon, Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo mainly because it’s affordable and easy to store.
Makayabu and Veggies is a family recipe that my mother used to make for us. Quick and easy, it’s definitely a dish that can make any kid eat their vegetables. When growing up, I was the type of kid who would always eat my proteins while leaving my portion of vegetables on the plate.
However, whenever my mother prepared this dish of Makayabu and Veggies, no veggie was left on my plate. I would simply eat every element on the plate with delightfulness. It’s an easy dish with a lot of flavour thanks to the salt cod.
Prep : 20 min Cooking time : 25-30 min Servings : 4
350 g of salted cod cut into chunks
½ sliced cabbage
1 diced white onion
1 diced green bell pepper
1 diced orange bell pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 red scotch bonnet pepper
2 white Zucchinis
Rehydrate the salt cod in cold water overnight. By soaking it in cold water, it also helps the fish to desalinate otherwise it would be too salty and impossible to eat.
Over medium eat, in a sautéed pan, fry the fish until it’s golden and brown. I like to fry the fish with garlic and bay leaves to add more flavor to the fish. Once golden and brown, remove the fish from the pan and set a side.
In the same pan, keep about ¼ cup of the oil used to fry the fish, add onion and sauté until it softens. Add pieces of zucchinis and eggplants. Cook for about 2-3 minutes.
Add the cabbage and season with stock cubes. Stir and add the scotch bonnet pepper. And cover for 5 minutes in order to let the cabbage soften.
After 5 minutes, add the bell peppers, stir and cover for another 5 minutes.
Once the vegetables are cooked to your liking, add the fish and rectify the seasoning if necessary. Let it cook, uncover for 2-3 minutes and turn off the heat.
Serve with boiled or fried cassava.
When frying the fish, use enough oil to avoid the fish to stick to the pan.
If you have fortunate enough to find garden eggs, replace eggplants with garden eggs. The original recipe that my mom used to make had garden eggs instead of eggplants.