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Discovering Cari de Bichiques: A Reunion Island Delight

Updated: Feb 22

The Exquisite Art of Crafting Cari de Bichiques Reunionnais: A Confluence of Flavours

The Cari de Bichiques Reunionnais – a vibrant, aromatic dish that captures the heart of Reunion Island's culinary culture. Revered for its unique combination of simplicity and complexity, this dish is not just a treat to the senses but a testament to the island's rich heritage.

A top down view of a bowl of Cari de Bichiques
Cari de Bichiques

An Introduction to the Elegance of Cari de Bichiques

Born out of the rhythmic confluence of African, Indian, Chinese, and European influences, Reunion Island is a melting pot of diverse cultures. It's in the colourful kitchens of this small French department that the Cari de Bichiques, a delightful culinary masterpiece, comes to life.


This flavourful dish, a delightful concoction of local "bichiques" fish, spices, and aromatics, isn't merely food; it's a tangible piece of the island's rich culinary history, a testament to the enduring influences that have shaped its cuisine. The Bichique is a fry of the round-mouthed Cabot. It is a young fish that lives at the mouths of rivers (between fresh water and salt water). This species is mainly found in the Indian Ocean such as Reunion Island, Madagascar, Mauritius or even Mayotte. On Reunion Island, fishing for this fish is highly regulated with very specific periods. If one day you hear a Reunionese say “bichik la monter”, it means that the bichiques are going up the river and it is simply fishing time. Freshly caught Bichique is a luxury product, for example 1kg of Bichique is worth between 80 and 100 euros. It is a very rare but very good dish that you can share at festive times or as a little treat for the cook.


The Star of the Dish: Bichiques


Bichiques, the prized tiny fish from the waters surrounding Reunion Island, lend their unique taste and texture to this dish. These fish are a seasonal delight, making the Cari de Bichiques a much-awaited culinary event on the island. The bichiques, usually caught during their migration period, command a significant price due to their rarity and demand.


Ingredients Uniting to Create a Symphony

The Cari de Bichiques Reunionnais transforms into an irresistible fare with the addition of select ingredients. Along with bichiques, turmeric or 'saffron péi' - a locally grown turmeric - tomatoes, onions, garlic, and thyme combine harmoniously, their distinct flavours blending beautifully to create a unique taste profile.


Recipe: How to Master the Cari de Bichiques Reunionnais

An authentic Cari de Bichiques Reunionnais demands precision, patience, and practice. Here's a step-by-step guide to master this delicacy:


Ingredients

  • 500g bichiques

  • 2 onions, finely chopped

  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed

  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron péi

  • 2 sprigs of thyme

  • 2 tomatoes, diced

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Bichiques Preparation: Start with thoroughly rinsed bichiques.

  2. Sauté Aromatics: In a large pot, sauté the onions and crushed garlic until translucent.

  3. Add Spices: Add saffron péi and thyme, letting them infuse their flavors into the mixture.

  4. Incorporate Tomatoes: Next, add the tomatoes and cook until they soften.

  5. Cook Bichiques: Add the bichiques, season with salt and pepper, and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes, until they're cooked through.

  6. Serve and Enjoy: Once done, serve the Cari de Bichiques hot with rice, lentils, or rougail for a traditional Reunion Island meal.


Exploring the Cultural Significance of Cari de Bichiques Reunionnais

The Cari de Bichiques Reunionnais is more than a dish; it's an expression of the island's vibrant culture. This delicacy, which marries local produce with traditional cooking techniques, is a testament to Reunion Island's culinary evolution, embodying the diversity and dynamism of its food scene.


The Cari de Bichiques Reunionnais is a shining example of how food can transcend its primary role as sustenance, becoming a profound cultural expression that unites communities and paves the way for shared culinary experiences.


In Conclusion: Cari de Bichiques Reunionnais, A Unique Culinary Gem

Steeped in a rich culinary tradition and crafted from prized local produce, the Cari de Bichiques Reunionnais is a feast for the senses. Whether you're a seasoned food connoisseur or a culinary adventurer, this dish from Reunion Island promises an unforgettable journey of flavours and textures, reflecting the essence of the island's culinary heritage in every bite.


 

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