25-06-2021 di redazione
The silver cyprinid is a small freshwater fish with a silvery colour and lustre that can grow to a maximum length of 9 cm.
Also known as the Lake Victoria sardine, in Kenya it is called omena and is widespread throughout the basin of Africa's largest lake, both on its Kenyan shores and in Uganda and Tanzania.
The omena is the only indigenous fish species that has remained abundant in Lake Victoria after the introduction of the Nile perch and tilapia, and its diet consists mainly of zooplankton and insects caught on the surface of the water. It reproduces throughout the year with two peaks, the first in August and the second in December-January.
The fishermen of Lake Victoria specialise in catching the omena: during moonless nights they travel in small boats in the darkness of the lake to the fishing grounds and attract their prey with the use of light sources. In the morning, the fish is sold to the women who wait on the banks to lay it out in the sun, often on sand, rocks or old nets laid on the grass for drying. This takes a day or more, depending on the weather.
Once dried, the minnows are packed in sacks and traders take them to various markets, including Kisumu, one of the most important wholesale hubs where they are shipped all over Kenya, even to the coast and throughout eastern and southern Africa.
In fact, it is easy to see piles of omena among the fruit, vegetable and grain stalls in the alleys of the markets in Malindi and Watamu.
Dried omena has also become a popular food in coastal towns, thanks to its long shelf life, the fact that it can be divided into small portions which makes it accessible and its high nutritional value, in fact it is rich in calcium because it is small enough to be eaten whole.
Here's a tasty recipe to try and accompany with ugali or rice.
500g of dried omena
1 large onion (chopped)
3 large ripe tomatoes (chopped)
1 green pepper
A bunch of fresh coriander leaves (finely chopped)
Salt to taste and other spices
2 cloves of grated garlic
Pour the small fish into a container and cover with hot water. Leave to soak for 3 minutes.
Wash the omena well by rubbing them between the palms of your hands until the water is almost clear.
Pour two tablespoons of cooking oil into a pan and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, pour in the fish and stir continuously until golden brown; remove from heat.
In another pan, sauté the chopped onions in a tablespoon of oil, add the garlic and stir well.
Add the chopped pepper and continue to stir for two minutes, throw in the chopped tomatoes and stir until tender and crushed. Add the fried fish, a pinch of salt and other spices to your liking and finally the coriander.
Stir for a minute and remove from the heat....joy your meal!
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