Fish Tea is not a tea in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a clear fish and vegetable soup, a kind of Caribbean Bouillabaisse, that is enjoyed as a light dinner or lunch. Fish Tea is made with fresh fish (this recipe calls for snapper, but any firm whitefish would work as well) and vegetables. You could also add shrimp or scallops to this recipe, but of course you would need to reduce the cooking time for the shellfish accordingly.
"Ground Provision" is a mixture of any starchy tuberous vegetables, such as the yuca, boniata and potatoes listed in the ingredients below, but it could also include malanga and breadfruit or other root vegetables.
If you prefer a stronger flavor, you may substitute fish stock for any or all of the water in this recipe. You can find some good quality boxed fish stocks on the shelves of many markets. They enhance the flavor of the Fish Tea considerably.
Fish Tea Recipe
2 pounds whole fresh fish, cleaned
3 whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 green plantains, peeled and cut into 1 inch slices
2 cups "ground provision", cut into 1-inch dice (yuca, boniata, potatoes or sweet potatoes)
1 chayote squash, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 scotch bonnet pepper
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste
1 small onion, diced
Place the fish in a large soup pot and cover it with water. Add the bay leaf, the peppercorns and the thyme. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover the pot and lower the heat. Allow the fish to simmer gently for approximately 30 minutes.
Strain the fish into a colander, saving the stock. Return the stock to the soup pot.
Allow the fish to cool slightly, then pick the meat from the bones. Discard the bones and return the fish to the soup pot.
Add the plantains, the "ground provision" vegetables, chayote, scallions, scotch bonnet pepper and onions. Bring the soup to a boil over medium high heat. Cover the soup pot, reduce the heat and allow the soup to simmer approximately 30 minutes longer, or until the vegetables are tender. Add the lime juice and salt to taste.
Note: Fish Tea may be served as a soup or the fish and vegetables may be strained out and the broth drunk as a beverage.