Stamp & Go

>> Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Stamp and Go photo stamp and go9_zpsnkpop9bu.png

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.

Fritters Sour photo sandgo5_zps4m8f7uoq.png

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.

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This recipe is heavily adapted from Enid Donaldson's, The Real Taste of Jamaica.

YIELD: 36 - 40

INGREDIENTS


  • 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
  • Water


DIRECTIONS


  1. Rinse and pat dry the salt fish. Flake into bits in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the sautéed ingredients to salt fish and mix well.
  4. Stir in the green onions/scallions.
  5. 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.
  6. Heat oil for pan frying over medium heat.
  7. Working in batches, add heaped tablespoons of batter and cook until brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.


NOTES


  • 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.


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A Few Fruits of Summer

>> Monday, 27 July 2015

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Don't laugh. We enjoy summer weather all year round in the Caribbean but we do feel the difference during the months generally referred to as summer. Here we call it the August holidays. At this time of the year, apart from schools and college being closed, most people are traveling, taking vacation and enjoying the festivities of Carnival, Culturama, Emancipation and Kadooment among other things.

There are a variety of summer camps. You see children out and about - playing cricket in the street, riding their bicycles like a lil gang and bathing at the sea. The snowcone vendors increase their frequency around neighborhoods and so too does the ice cream truck. Sleeping in in the mornings and staying up way past regular bedtime is the order of the day. Good times.

No recipe this week, just a few images of some of the fruits to be enjoyed around this time. Next week, I'll share some more with you.

I hope your summer/August holidays are going well.

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Gooseberry Syrup photo syrup_zps2eprhpu4.png

Pomergranate photo pom cup_zpstm72cly8.png

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Bacon of the Sea

>> Wednesday, 8 July 2015

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One of the many pleasures of life is having good friends, especially those that share your interests. Julius Gittens is one such friend.

On a fine Saturday morning a few weeks ago, Julius arrived at my place and we had a foodie exchange. I gave him fiery hot bird peppers and he surprised me with a back of Bacon of the Sea. You should have seen him, armed with an insulated bag to keep the goodies at the right temperature. I was immediately intrigued.

Bacon of the Sea is a smoked fish product made in Grenada. It is naturally smoked sailfish strips. Packaged just like bacon, it sells itself as a bacon substitutes for those who do not consume pork or are looking for a healthy alternative to regular bacon. With strict instructions not to cook it for more than 30 seconds, Julius was off. He had more stops to make on his Bacon of the Sea tour.

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A week later, I cooked the bacon substitute. Once defrosted, I followed the package instructions of heating a pan with a little oil and sticking to the overall cooking time of 30 seconds. Cooked longer (and I did do that just to test it), the 'bacon' becomes stiff but that is not such a bad thing because you can then chop it into bits, like bacon bits.

As you can see in the picture from the package, the fish is redolent with the signature, brown, smoked hue. However, once it hits the pan, it turns opaque (see photo below) and there is a slight hue of pink. One of the surprising things for me is that it smelt a little like bacon while it was cooking. Maybe it is because of the smoke-cured process.

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As I tasted the bacon, it reminded me of smoked salmon. I enjoyed it and would definitely buy it if I had ready access to the product. What I especially liked is that I found the portion in the package to be quite generous. There were 13 strips in the packet (I counted).

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If you are interested in the sautéed tomatoes on the plate, here's what to to:

sauteed tomatoes photo Tomatoes Collage_zpsrncfsnch.png

So, Jules, when you making another delivery?

For more information on Bacon of the Sea and how you can access the product, please check out the following:

Southern Fishermen Association Inc.
Grand Mal
St. George's
GRENADA
website: www.southernfishermen-grenada.com
Email: southfish@spiceisle.com
Tel/Fax: (473) 435-1693

bacon meal photo bacon meal_zpsx2vzkb9j.png

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