caribbean · fish

Punch of flavour!

Wahey! The first post of the month has finally uploaded. I thought that it would be wise to squeeze  in the last post before the next semester arrives all guns blazing!!! That’s the smart thing to do under the circumstances. Just found out my timetable for this semester and it ain’t pretty lol. Going to be alot of late nights and early mornings this time around but hey I’m blessed knowing that my plans are falling into place despite it being a relatively tumultuous journey…

Maybe I’m biased, but just like countless people around the globe, I cannot help but think that Jamaican cuisine is one of the best in the world. It is an unparalleled example of the fusion of not only types of food but also cooking techniques of the plethora of cultures and customs that have inhabited the island over the centuries.

Jamaican dishes are the kind that can be warming and provide solace any day you choose! And because of its culturally diverse heritage there are sweet and savoury dishes to suit everyone’s tastes. Of the many dishes to make the focus of my post I thought that a great dish would be saltfish (salt-cured cod), callaloo and fried dumplings.

Saltfish is cod which has been preserved in salt and dried until all the moisture has been removed. This is the reason why the fish has to be left to soak in hot water at least a couple hours before cooking. It was introduced to Jamaica around the 16th Century during British colonisation and has remained a part of the cuisine since. Callaloo (Amaranthus viridis) is a nutritious and delicious side dish similar to boiled nettle leaves, white cabbage and spinach. This green leafy vegetable is an excellent source of Vitamin C, Iron, Calcium and will suit both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Fried dumplings are a household favourite often given the colloquial term “Johnny Cakes”. It is thought to be derived from the term “journey cake” because during the time of transatlantic slavery they were taken with them for the long voyage to the Americas.

It’s things like this that highlight how important history has shaped the society we live in from cultural attire to even the food we consume on a daily basis.

I’d beg any skeptics to try the recipe below because you won’t be disappointed (trust me):

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Ingredients

300g saltfish, skinless & boneless

2 spring onions, sliced

1 medium onions, diced

1 scotch bonnet pepper, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

1 tsp ground black pepper

4 sprigs of dried thyme

1 large red sweet pepper, diced

2 salad tomatoes, sliced

1 tsp tomato ketchup

1 tin callaloo (~540g)

1 tbsp butter

4 strips of bacon, sliced (optional)

(oil as much is required)

In general, follow the instructions on the packet for soaking the saltfish overnight and leave aside. Drain the saltfish, sauté the spring onions, onions and tomatoes until caramelised. Add the black pepper, garlic, sweet pepper, tomato ketchup, butter, scotch bonnet pepper, dried thyme and bacon (optional). Because the fish is practically cooked it can be left to simmer for about 10-15 minutes.  Then take some of these juices and add to a separate saucepan followed by the callaloo and additional salt to taste if necessary. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer for 25-30 minutes until the callaloo softens.

…And now the johnny cakes… (the measurements were not exact):

2 cups plain flour

~1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 cup cold water

Combine the dry ingredients. Season the water with salt to taste. Add the water gradually until the dough comes together. Knead well until the dough is smooth and can be pulled apart easy. Shape the dough into small balls about 2 cm in diameter and touch the centre of each slightly to form concave discs.  They then should be fried in enough sizzling oil so that it reaches half of the dumplings. When the underside has browned turn them over. You will know they are ready when you tap them and they sound hollow in the middle.

EnjooOn to the good…

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