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Recipe book promotes nutritional value of fish in Africa – and beyond

A good source of protein, minerals and vitamins, fish is especially important for pregnant women, infants and children, and the elderly

Fish is truly nature’s superfood – it contains most of the nutrients you need to lead a healthy life. A good source of protein, minerals and vitamins, fish is especially important for pregnant women, infants and children, and the elderly.

This recipe book, entitled Cooking Freshwater Fish, is aimed at encouraging people to appreciate the nutritional value of fish by providing simple, easy to follow step-by-step preparation and cooking instructions for traditional, healthy recipes for freshwater fish. It also proposes some new recipes to try.

All recipes can be prepared with available ingredients and equipment typically found in Eastern African villages.

The publication focuses on the use of the three most common species of freshwater fish in Africa: Sardine, Tilapia and Nile Perch.

It also includes helpful, handy, and practical instructions such as the proper method on how to fillet a fish or how to choose and prepare fish. Although aimed at African readers, the publication offers healthy and tasty recipes to readers beyond the African continent as well.

Cooking Freshwater Fish was produced by FAO through the SmartFish Programme, in the framework of the Clean Fish, Better Life Campaign that took place in 2013-2014.

The Clean Fish, Better Life Campaign is a fish quality awareness promotion field intervention disseminated via mobile cinema,  integrated with the other capacity building activities (cooking demonstration, video training to fishers, etc.).

The campaign started in July 2013 in Kenya and continued in Tanzania and Uganda until March 2014, targeting a total of 36 sites in the three Lake Victoria riparian countries.

A follow-up campaign was launched in November 2015, and you can learn more about it on our earlier post about promoting increased fish consumption through a television public service announcement.

According to Florence Wallemacq, Outreach Consultant for the SmartFish Programme, this recipe book project worked hard to ensure that the recipes proposed in this cook book would be fully accepted and enjoyed by local populations. “As part of this project, a professional chef spent ten days in the local markets, restaurants, homes and landing site, in order to conduct a detailed research about the locally available ingredients as well as the preferences of the local fish consumers.

He travelled to Lake Victoria in July 2012 in order to select the best and healthiest recipes mainly from Luo and Swahili traditions, paying particular attention to using locally available ingredients.

The recipes were selected and developed with the direct participation of the beneficiaries and women to ensure ownership.

Eight of the proposed recipes are traditional recipes, eight of them have been specially created for the campaign, fully taking into account ingredients that can be sourced locally and cooking methods in keeping with local traditions. “

Children in Tanzania reading the Cooking Freshwater Fish recipe book in Swahili

The recipes are designed for the three most common species of freshwater fish: sardines, tilapia and Nile perch.

Over 6,000 copies of the booklet distributed in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda through the Mobile Cinema awareness creation campaign.

This publication is available in English, French, Swahili and Luanda languages. You can find the English version here below.

Why not try one of these healthy and tasty African freshwater fish recipes at home tonight?

Cooking freshwater fish:



Part 3

Part 4

Cooking Freshwater Fish also contains easy-to-follow practical tips, such as these instructions on how to fillet a fish
These Tanzanian women display their recipe books
Participants learned about different types of value added products


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