Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to make microwave Cou-Cou (Trinidad Coo-Coo)

What's better than cou cou with stewed fish? Cou cou that doesn't need stirring until it feels like your arm is about to fall off, that's what.

What's the worse thing a friend can tell you when you have been proven wrong?

I told you so!

Yes Cynthia my friend feel free to unleash the three most annoying words in the english language at me.

You really did tell me so.

Cou cou, is the Caribbean version of polenta. Paired with flying fish, it is the national dish of Barbados but it is made all across the region. The traditional way of making this cou cou involves a lot of stirring with a stick that looks like this

As the liquid is absorbed into the cornmeal the entire thing stiffens up and gets very heavy. Turning it becomes a tiresome process. 

About 5 years ago my good friend Cynthia gave me a tip for preparing cou cou in the microwave. It takes just ten minutes and you can avoid the arm workout because it's so easy to do.

I was skeptical and promptly ignored her.

You will forgive me but I have deep seated ill feelings towards microwave ovens, borne out of past experiences where food basically tastes like rubber. However my recent success with making lemon curd in the microwave made me think that I should give Cynthia's suggestion a try. Am I ever glad that I did.  

Trinidadian Cou Cou
(adapted from Cynthia Nelson)

butter ( for greasing bowl)
1 cup fine cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons Trinidad pimento peppers (chopped)
1 tablespoon bell peppers
1 tsp onion powder ( or one tablespoon finely chopped onions)
1 cup okra (thinly sliced or chopped fine according to your preference)
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups water 

Butter a pyrex bowl (approx 9-10" diameter) generously and put aside.
Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and stir to mix everything together.

Pour the mixture into the buttered pyrex bowl and place in the microwave.
Set the microwave on high and cook for 6 minutes.

At the end of the 6 minutes use oven mitts to remove the bowl from the microwave. Be careful the bowl will be hot.Stir the mixture well folding the top over into the bottom and evening out any lumps. Place the bowl back into the microwave and cook for 4 minutes.

Remove from the microwave. Smear a pat of butter across the top and leave it at least 15 minutes to firm up before serving. After it is cooled turn the bowl upside down and unmold the cou cou onto a serving plate and slice to serve.

COOKS TIP: This recipe is for a Trinidadian style cou-cou which is different from a Bajan (Barbadian) cou-cou. Trinis mostly use coconut milk for their cooking liquid in cou cou while other islands do not. Trinidadian's also like to see a colourful cou cou hence the use of red and green peppers. Some people also include grated carrots.


  1. Una versión encantadora luce muy sabrosa me encanta,saludos y abrazos.

  2. Is this different than fufu? Either way, it sounds delicious and I do enjoy a delicious short cut too!

  3. Cou Cou is new to me, although polenta is not! They sound remarkably similar! I add butter and sometimes cream to my polenta toward the end of cooking (stirring!). I need to try this recipe in my microwave, why not? We are busy cooks and delicious has many avenues! Thank you for the appealing recipe!

  4. Cou Cou? Just to look at it makes me coo coo crazy! This time you have exaggerated, Wizzy! A dish that combines cornmeal, coconut milk, and okra together could not be other rather than STUPENDOUS.

  5. I've never heard of this dish before, but now I think I had better start making up for lost time! It sounds truly delicious, perfect for summer, and I can't get over just how quick and easy it is. Love it when I can just throw something in the microwave without heating up the whole kitchen. :)

  6. This is why I love reading your blog Wizzy! I hear all about new things that I've never heard of before! :D

  7. We've spent many happy vacations on different islands in the Caribbean, but not once have I ever seen cou cou on a menu! This was completely new to me. Loved reading about it and making it with coconut milk (which I plan to try with polenta) is a great idea.

  8. I smiled - I feel the same way about pounded yam, thats similar in texture to CouCou, which I never tried in Barbados! Nevertheless, friends sometimes have great, time-saving ideas, don't they?

    I have a few friends who are sooooo good at saying I told you so, it gets tiring :-) but, but, but.....I'm glad this turned out well. Thanks to Cynthia on your behalf!

  9. I've never had this dish before. It looks and sounds really delicious.

  10. I love polenta so I can't wait to try this version! Also totally intrigued by these Trinidadian peppers :)

  11. i like all the color and the use of coconut milk! are those coconut flakes on top?

  12. Love learning all about Trinidad food culture. Thanks for sharing, Wizzy. That looks so so delish and comforting :)

  13. Wow! A microwave version of Polenta. Love the recipe Wizzy. Like you, I've had disasters with microwave recipes. But I can't wait to try this one. And the first picture with the stewed fish is making my mouth water.

  14. Looks very interesting, I love Trinidadian food!

  15. This looks awesome! Cou Cou is something new to me, Wizzy. I would love to know more on Trinidad food, from you!

  16. That dish is really interesting and must taste wonderful!



  17. What a lovely dish! Love the colours...loved reading about Caribbean food, very new to me :-)

  18. very cool. i would have never thought you could microwave that!

  19. This looks like the Italian version of baked polenta except this with coconut milk has lots of tropical flavours. Sounds yummy!

  20. It's new dish for me but enjoyed reading your post. I learn so much every time I visit! :)