>> Thursday, 10 September 2015
I went to my butcher a few months ago and ordered a de-boned pig's head, and asked him to halve it for me. One jowl was cured, and some of it, along with the ears and tongue were cooked al la my friend Marvin's Spicy Sizzling Sisig. The other half of the pig's head, well, I turned it into cracklin'.
I seasoned the meat overnight, brought it up to room temperature the following day, pat it dry, and then set it in the oven low and slow. It was served as part of a nibbles spread and they were the first thing to go. No surprise there.
>> Wednesday, 19 August 2015
Fish cakes or salted cod fritters is a delicious snack that you can find all across the Caribbean. Depending on where you are, the differences are subtle and in some cases, they show their direct influence. For example, in Guyana where I am from, you can see the Portuguese influence in our fish cakes based on the shape and the use of English potatoes in the mixture. However, due to the profusion of fresh seafood in Guyana, fresh fish is often used instead of salted fish. In other parts of the region, you can see the African influence in the style of accras, also known as fritters.
In Barbados and elsewhere, these salt fish fritters are known as fish cakes, fish fritters, salt fish cakes and accras or salt fish accras. In Jamaica, they are called Stamp & Go. Just as the names are different, so too are the fritters, even though they look similar and are made of the same primary ingredients. It is the application of these ingredients and techniques employed that make each set of fritters stand out. The differences of application can be deep versus pan (shallow) frying, the amount to heat (pepper) added, the herbs of choice, the amount of flour added, the addition or omission of baking powder, and in some cases it is all about how the salt fish is de-salted or not, and then shredded. Some batters call for the addition of eggs. Regardless of the preparation, a proper fish cake/salt fish accra is a food not to be missed. Eaten hot with pepper sauce and chased with an ice-cold beverage, it is very much a taste of the Caribbean.
I generally eat fish cakes with loud (meaning lots of) Guyanese sour. Sour is a savoury condiment.
Jamaica's codfish fritters, Stamp & Go, is pan fried in a little oil and the seasonings for the fritters are cooked before being added to the salt fish along with flour, baking powder and water to make a thick batter. This was the first time I had made the Jamaican version of salt fish fritters and it does taste different (good different) with the herbs and other aromatics being cooked first, as opposed to what usually uptakes in most other salt fish fritters - the seasonings (herbs, onions, hot peppers and so on) are very finely minced and mixed directly with the other ingredients.
This recipe is heavily adapted from Enid Donaldson's, The Real Taste of Jamaica.
YIELD: 36 - 40
- 1 pound boneless salt fish, soaked overnight - 18 hours in tap water
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for pan frying
- 1 cup finely diced onions
- 3 - 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 4 - 5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and finely minced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes
- Minced hot pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon fine table salt
- 3 scallions/green onions sliced thinly, white/purple & green parts
- 1 + 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- Rinse and pat dry the salt fish. Flake into bits in a large bowl and set aside.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, thyme, tomatoes and pepper along with salt and toss to mix. Reduce heat to low and cook until the ingredients are soft. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Add the sautéed ingredients to salt fish and mix well.
- Stir in the green onions/scallions.
- Mix together the flour and baking powder and add to the salt fish mixture along with just enough water to form a thick batter. The batter should not be stiff or runny.
- Heat oil for pan frying over medium heat.
- Working in batches, add heaped tablespoons of batter and cook until brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.
- Some salt fish are saltier than others, therefore there should be no need to add salt to the batter. However, if you find that all of the salt has been removed the salt fish, add salt to taste to the batter.
- Change the water at least once during the soaking process.
- If the fritters are browning too quickly reduce the heat a little and do not over crowd the pan.