Sylvia Akinyi is a foodie and owner of Akinyi’s Plate. She proclaims that “you have not eaten fish if you have not eaten Akinyi’s fish. Period.” If you are looking for fresh fish, she is your gal. You can find her on Instagram @akinyis_plate
1 large tilapia
Sprigs of parsley
2 small fresh onions
2 fresh bell peppers
1 juicy lemon
A pinch of black pepper
1 clove of garlic
2 large tomatoes, sliced
½ tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste
1. Clean and dry the fish.
2. Cut deep into the flesh three times.
3. Rub the seasonings onto the fish and stuff it with the onions and peppers.
4. Squeeze the juice of one lemon and rub the olive oil on both sides to avoid sticking.
5. Place it on a foil paper, secure it tightly and put it on your jiko grill.
6. Cook both sides for about 15 minutes.
7. Serve with hot ugali and kachumbari, or serve with deep-fried plantains.
Why the name Akinyi’s Plate?
So many things leave the kitchen, but I wanted to focus all the love on each plate, hence the name. Every plate matters. Besides the passion, I always ensure the fish is fresh and premium quality. I source my fish from Nam Lolwe/Lake Victoria.
What do you love most about running your business?
The thank-yous and wowed stomachs of my customers, which fans my passion. Other than that, I love cooking and everything about food and the fact that I get to make money from my passion is awesome!
What is the most challenging part about running your business?
At the top of the list is delivery. Having to trust someone else to ensure the deliciously cooked food gets to the customer in good time and in the right condition can and has on occasion led to disappointments. But I rest in the fact that challenges are part and parcel of the business and help in pinpointing the gaps in which to do better in business.
When did you start your business?
I started making and selling fish in 2018. I would cook after work. It got so tiring I took a two-year hiatus and only got back to it full-time in 2020. My biggest inspiration is my mum. Her love for food and cooking rubbed off on me. My dana (grandma) too made us some great meals when we were younger that still inspire me to this day. The Nyakeyo mix is actually named after her, and most of the other recipes are inspired by them.
How many varieties of fish are in Akinyi’s Plate menu?
Eight selections: Grilled fish with plantains and sauce, deep-fried fish with sauce, wet fried fish with sauce, coconut fish, grilled Nile perch, fish burger with fries, fillet and omena.
Of the varieties, which is the most ordered?
Wet coconut fish. My customers can‘t get enough. This is followed closely by deep-fried fish with fries and guacamole.
How best would you recommend to eat fish?
Grilled fish with fried plantains. For one it is a healthy option because grilling fish requires less oil compared to, say, deep frying. Grilling also confers unbelievable flavour to the fish. I also dare say no one makes fish as I do.
Any special secrets that make your stand out from the competition?
There really is no secret other than using fresh ingredients and making every plate with passion. The passion is what gives it the Midas touch.
What weird food combination has a client ever ordered?
Without a doubt, raw omena soup with brown ugali. The rawness of the omena came as a surprise to me.
What cooking ingredients you cannot live without?
Onions and fresh pepper. My mum always says there is no food without onions, and I agree. The duo is a perfect flavour enhancer.
What is the one kitchen equipment you have ever wasted money on?
A food grinder. I bought it on sale, but all it does is sit on my shelf and occupy space.
The one kitchen gadget you cannot live without?
It may not qualify as a gadget, but I consistently use my grandmother’s clay pot to make the traditional veggies, Nyakeyo mix. I carry it everywhere I go. I cherish it.
The one kitchen gadget you would buy if money was no object.
A cast iron set of pots.
Biggest eating pet peeve?
Raw onions. The uncooked taste of onions in food puts me off.
If you were to eat one food for the rest of your life, what food would that be?
Nyakeyo mix; the traditional veggies with brown ugali. Customers have called it the magical greens. They love it so much they are willing to forego their meat for the veggies.