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Nigerian Jollof Rice with Fish

Pan fired sea bass with jollof rice on a large black plate garnished with parsley and a lemon slice.
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Possibly the most famous West African dish – Jollof Rice – has made it onto our dinner table! Cooked in a spiced tomato sauce, rice makes a perfect warming side dish for ginger and garlic pan-fried sea bass. Bursting with flavours, our Nigerian-inspired Jollof Rice with Fish is an easy weeknight dinner for those who enjoy a bit of ‘hot and spicy’ on their plate!

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What is Jollof Rice?

Jollof is probably the most well-known West-African rice dish. Popular in Nigeria, Gambia, Senegal, Mali and Cameroon there are as many variations of the dish as there are families!

We first made it a couple of months ago, when the Jollof Rice recipe was featured in one of the BBC Good Food magazine issues. It sparked my interest because I’ve never tasted Nigerian food before. Moreover, cooking rice in rich tomato stock seemed like a genius way to add all the flavour. And when it comes to big flavours, this rice dish is definitely a winner.

We cooked our rice in tomato, garlic and curry spice flavoured sauce. We have added a scotch bonnet chilli for that real African cuisine heat. Whilst Jollof rice is eaten as a main dish in many countries, we served it as a side to a lovely pan-fried sea bass that’d been marinating with ginger and garlic.

Jollof rice in a pan steaming.

Ingredients and Substitutions

You can make this dish as elaborate or as simple as you like. Many ingredients can be easily replaced with what you have in your cupboards, for example:

What To Eat With Jollof Rice if You Don’t Like Fish?

We think that Jollof Rice is a very versatile side dish that goes with many meat, fish and even vegetarian dishes. If you are not a fan of Fish, try serving it with some marinated baked chicken breasts or thighs. If you have some cooked chicken already, simply shred it and mix it in with the rice.

If you are looking for a vegetarian feast, why not try jollof rice with some curried cauliflower or Roasted Cabbage Wedges (recipe coming soon) and a side of fried plantain!

Step-by-Step Jollof Rice with Fish Recipe

STEP 1: Marinate Your Fish

About 6 hours before cooking, marinate your fish. Combine finely chopped or minced garlic, ginger and oil in a small bowl. Crumble in ¼ of a vegetable stock cube and mix to combine. Rub the marinade on fish fillets, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for approx. 5-6 hours, or overnight.

Seabass with the garlic and ginger marinade on a white plate.

STEP 2: Make Jollof Rice

For the Jollof Rice, place the tomatoes, tomato purée, chilli, onion, 1/2 pepper, garlic and curry powder in a blender or food processor and whizz until smooth. Jollof rice spices vary regionally and even from family to family, so feel free to experiment with different spices and quantities.

In a large pan with a matching lid, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the remaining chopped peppers, and the tomato sauce you made in the previous step. Bring to the boil. Add the rice and vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes. Take the lid off and stir every couple of minutes to prevent the rice from sticking, until the rice is cooked through. Take off the heat and leave to sit with the lid on for another 10 minutes, whilst you prepare the fish.

STEP 3: Pan-Fry Your Sea Bass

Dab the skin side of the seabass with some paper towel (to ensure crispy skin). Lightly brush the base of a non-stick frying pan with oil and heat over medium-high. Place the sea bass fillets in the pan skin-side down. As soon as they hit the pan, press down on the fillets with a spatula or a fish slice to prevent curling.

Fry for 3–4 minutes until skins crisp up. Gently turn the fish fillets over and continue cooking for another minute. The flesh of your seabass should be opaque.

Pressing the seabass down with a fish slice to prevent the fillets from curling in a frying pan.

STEP 4: Serve Nigerian Jollof Rice with Fish

Just before serving, stir chopped coriander into the rice. Divide the jollof rice between plates, and top with pan-fried bass.

Jollof Rice with Fish served on a black plate with candle burning in the background.

What Else To Serve With Jollof Rice and Fish?

If you are looking for some side dishes for this Nigerian meal, we recommend having something a little low-key with it. The reason is simple, there is so much flavour in the Jollof rice and the fish that’s been marinated with garlic and ginger that you simply don’t need to add any extra flavours to your plate. Why not try this recipe with:

Recipe FAQs

Can Jollof Rice be Made in Advance?

You can make the spicy Jollof Rice sauce a day ahead and refrigerate until you are ready to cook. We do not, however, recommend cooking the rice and reheating it later, as it will likely overcook and be stodgy.

What’s a Good Substitute for Sea Bass?

We always have great success y substituting Mediterranean sea bass with Sea Bream or Tilapia. Both fillets of fish are of similar thickness to sea bass and cook in a similar amount of time.

How to Cook Sea Bass?

We used Mediterranean sea bass fillets that are thin and cook in a jiffy, so it is important to note that it only needs a few minutes to cook through and the skin to crisp up. Don’t use much oil in the frying pan and let the pan get hot before adding the sea bass fillets. Always start frying skin side down.

Sea bass fillets tend to curl up when they hit the hot pan. To avoid that, score the skin a few times with a sharp knife and apply some gentle pressure to keep the fillets touching the pan across the surface area for the first 20 seconds as soon as they hit the pan. Use a fish slice or a flat spatula.
Cook skin side down for 3–4 minutes. The skin should be golden and crispy. Turn the sea bass over gently and cook for a further minute. The fish should be completely opaque when cooked.

Pan fried sea bass on top of jollof rice garnished with a slice of lemon in a white bowl.

Other African-Cuisine Inspired Recipes

We are cooking our way through cultures and cuisines around the world. For inspiration, have a look at our other African-inspired recipes below:

Pan fired sea bass with jollof rice on a large black plate garnished with parsley and a lemon slice.

Nigerian Spiced Jollof Rice with Fish

Possibly the most famous West African dish – Jollof Rice- has made it onto our dinner table! Cooked in a spiced tomato sauce, rice makes a perfect warming side dish to ginger and garlic flavoured sea bass. Bursting with flavours, our Nigerian Inspired Jollof Rice with Fish is an easy weeknight dinner for those who enjoy a bit of 'hot and spicy' on their plate!
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Marinating Time: 6 hrs
Total Time 6 hrs 40 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Nigerian, West African
Servings 2 portions
Calories 605 kcal

Equipment

  • Blender or Food Processor

Ingredients
 
 

For Jollof Rice:

  • 1 small onion roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • 1 scotch bonnet or red chilli chopped
  • 200 g plum tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 1 pepper chopped into bite-size pieces
  • tsp curry powder jamaican style, ideally
  • 180 g long grain rice
  • 200 g vegetable stock
  • 15 g coriander roughly chopped

For Sea Bass:

  • 2 seabass fillets
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 5 g ginger finely chopped or minced
  • 1 small garlic clove finely chopped or minced
  • ¼ vegetable stock cube

Instructions
 

  • About 6 hours before cooking, marinate your fish. Combine finely chopped or minced garlic, ginger and oil in a small bowl. Crumble in ¼ of a vegetable stock cube and mix to combine. Rub the marinade on fish fillets, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for approx. 5-6 hours, or overnight.
  • For the Jollof Rice, place the tomatoes, tomato purée, chilli, onion, 1/2 pepper, garlic and curry powder in a blender or food processor and whizz until smooth.
  • In a large pan with a matching lid, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the remaining chopped peppers, and the tomato sauce you made in the previous step. Bring to the boil. Add the rice and vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes. Take the lid off and stir every couple of minutes to prevent the rice from sticking, until the rice is cooked through. Take off the heat and leave to sit with the lid on for another 10 minutes, whilst you prepare the fish.
  • Dab the skin side of the seabass with some paper towel (to ensure crispy skin). Lightly brush the base of a non-stick frying pan with oil and heat over medium-high. Place the sea bass fillets in the pan skin-side down. As soon as they hit the pan, press down on the fillets with a spatula or a fish slice to prevent curling.
  • Fry for 3–4 minutes until skins crisp up. Gently turn the fish fillets over and continue cooking for another minute. The flesh of your seabass should be opaque.
  • Just before serving, stir in chopped coriander into the rice. Divide the jollof rice between plates, and top with pan-fired bass. In West Africa, this meal is often served with a side of coleslaw!

Nutrition

Calories: 605kcalCarbohydrates: 87gProtein: 31gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 953mgPotassium: 535mgFiber: 4gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 1624IUVitamin C: 29mgCalcium: 69mgIron: 2mg
Keyword African recipes, African Rice Recipe, Jollof Rice, Jollof Rice Recipe, Jollof Rice Recipe UK, Jollof Rice Recipe with Fish, Jollof Rice with Fish, Jollof Rice with Fish Recipe, Jollof Rice with Seabass, Nigerian Inspired Jollof Rice, Nigerian Jollof Rice, Sea Bass with Ginger, Seabass Recipe, Spicy African Rice, Spicy Rice
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6 Replies to “Nigerian Jollof Rice with Fish”

  1. 5 stars
    I have heard about this recipe but never knew how to make. So easy and yet packed with flavor. It looks so fancy too!

    1. Thanks, Roxana! So glad you finally got to try it!

  2. 5 stars
    What a great dish! I’ve made this rice a few times now and it always turns out perfect and delicious! Thanks so much for sharing it.

    1. Thanks, Shelly! So glad you enjoy it! 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Love making Jollof Rice! One of my favorites to have with the crispy sea bass. I’ve also had it with tilapia too!

    1. You’re right, it’s great with tilapia too! 🙂

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