How to make sere lasus with hudut, Belizean style

Chef Sean Kuylen from Belize tells us how this coconutty fish broth celebrates the tropical nation’s history, culture and produce. He also shares his own recipe for this snapper fish soup with us...

6 mins
Everyone has a coconut tree in their garden in southern Belize (Dreamstime)

Everyone has a coconut tree in their garden in southern Belize (Dreamstime)

Everyone has a coconut tree in their backyard in southern Belize.

Hot habanero peppers and sweet plantain grow plentifully in the Garifuna villages, too, often picked from the garden and thrown straight into a coconutty fish broth.

Or, as the locals know it, sere lasus (soup) with hudut (ripe plantain).

It’s the ultimate comfort food, sketching a portrait of my childhood in the village of Dangriga in just one bite.

On Saturdays, the fishy broth is just what the villagers eat. No-one goes to supermarkets or chain restaurants.

A Garifuna lady holds coconut halves while cooking (Shutterstock)

A Garifuna lady holds coconut halves while cooking (Shutterstock)

All the ingredients are organic; they are gathered in season, taken straight from the garden or farm. Sweet snappers and sea crabs are hooked straight from the sea – nothing is processed in this dish. 

But Belize’s indigenous Garifuna culture has a part to play in this recipe, too...

The Garifuna influence

A man fillets a snapper fish in Dangriga, Belize (Dreamstime)

A man fillets a snapper fish in Dangriga, Belize (Dreamstime)

After being shipwrecked on course to the West Indies, the Garifuna settled in Belize’s southern villages in the early 1800s.

Their blend of African and Caribbean influences created a cuisine around ingredients easily available in the subtropical climate, from cassava to coconuts.

Traditionally, a bowlful of sere lasus is spooned out with a side of cassava bread on 19 November – a national holiday that celebrates the Garifuna’s settlement.

Its popularity means that different kinds are served all-year-round, though.

You can head to Dangriga or Hopkins for a more authentic taster, but even at island resorts in Ambergris Caye you’ll find a contemporary version that will charm even the most traditional villager.

Part of the appeal is its versatility. Switch up the ingredients, as and how you like – any kind of fish can be substituted into this tasty broth, and scotch bonnets will work in place of habaneros.

Sere lasus with hudut may be humble fare, but it certainly captures the vibrant spirit of our nation.

The full recipe for sere lasus (with hudut)

Ingredients (to serve four people)

Green plantain (Shutterstock)

Green plantain (Shutterstock)

4 large green plantains, peeled

2 large ripe plantains, peeled

2 cups cocount milk 

1 cup onion, julienne

4 cloves garlic

2 whole habanero peppers

1 bunch fresh basil 

Salt and pepper to taste

4 medium sized snappers

4 large sea crab 

Method

 

Sere Lasus (Dreamstime)

Sere Lasus (Dreamstime)

Peel and place the green and ripe plantain in a pot of salted water and boil until soft. While still warm, puree in a food processor adding water to keep the consistency of mashed potato.

Place the coconut milk, onion, garlic, habanero and basil in the stockpot and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally to avoid curdling.

Season and add the fish and the crab to the rich coconut broth and continue to simmer until the fish is fully cooked, or about 20 minutes. Add fresh basial nad onions to the broth. Season to taste. 

Serve by placing a large spoonful of plaintain hudut in the soup with fish, crab and coconut seafood broth. You may also enjoy with cassava bread soaking up the broth. Contemporary versions add briny pigtails for extra flavour 

Meet Belizean chef Sean Kuylen...

Chef Sean Kuylen tells us why this recipe captures the spirit of Belize (Sean Kuylen)

Chef Sean Kuylen tells us why this recipe captures the spirit of Belize (Sean Kuylen)

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