A JAMAICAN FAVE #ESCOVITCHED SNAPPER FISH

This old favorite of mine was due for an early revisit. After making a delicious fish broth(tea) with the heads of my two snapper along with root vegetables, I decided to continue the traditional way and did a Jamaican escovitch fish dish with the remainder of my snapper.

FISH BROTH (TEA) SIMMERING
FISH BROTH (TEA) SIMMERING

Although this dish is predominately served during the Easter period, it’s enjoyed throughout the year. The ingredients were:

  • Sliced snapper (boned-in) (six pieces)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Canola oil for frying (1 cup)
  • Crushed all spice (pimento berries)
  • Bell peppers
  • Onions
  • Scotch bonnet pepper
  • Garlic (clove)
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Sugar

Method:

Fried fish:

  1. Whole fish were previously scaled and cleaned by fish monger.
  2. After heads were removed for fish tea, the bodies of fish were slices and scored in order to allow seasoning to penetrate. They were dried with paper towels and seasoned with salt and black pepper to taste. These were placed in refrigerator  for approximately four hours.
  3. In hot skillet, oil was added under medium to high heat and flavored with a clove of garlic. Garlic was then discarded. Fish slices were further dried with paper towel and fried for approximately five to six minutes on each side.
  4. Then fish slices were dried on paper towel to remove excess oil.

Pickled (vinegar-based) veggies:

  1. In stock pot, vinegar, splash of water along with pinch of salt, sugar and sprinkle of black pepper were added. These were brought to a boil under medium heat.
  2. Bell peppers, onions, pimento berries, scotch bonnet pepper were added and allowed to simmer for approximately two minutes under low heat.

    PICKLED (VINEGAR-BASED) VEGGIES
    PICKLED (VINEGAR-BASED) VEGGIES
  3. Fried fish pieces were added to platter.
  4. Pickled veggies were added by garnishing fish and spooning on vinegar dressing.

A RUSTIC KIND OF A MEAL #PAN-FRIED SNAPPER AND CREAMY TURNED CORNMEAL (POLENTA)

Fetched me a couple of whole snapper fish at the market. The cute fishmonger was kind enough to scale and clean them thoroughly for yours truly.  I took them home did a quick rinse and scored my ‘boys’ and seasoned the with salt and black pepper.

SEASONED AND CORED WHOLE SNAPPER FISH
SEASONED AND  SCORED WHOLE SNAPPER FISH

Scoring facilitates a better entry of seasonings and spices. The marks are also excellent for presentation. After drying of my snapper with paper towel, I placed them in a hot skillet with garlic-flavored canola oil. It took approximately five minutes on each side medium heat.They were then placed on paper towel so as to drain excess grease.

I topped my fish with a spicy and slightly sweet pickled vegetables. Pickled sauce was made from a generous splash of distilled vinegar, fresh orange juice, a pinch of salt and pepper along with crushed pimento (all spice) and chopped scotch bonnet pepper. This was served over a bed of smooth and creamy turned corned meal (polenta).

CREAMY TURNED CORNMEAL (POLENTA) SIMMERING ON LOW HEAT
CREAMY TURNED CORNMEAL (POLENTA) SIMMERING ON LOW HEAT

A DISH TO FEEL LUCKY ABOUT##BRAISED CURRIED GOAT(MUTTON) ##THE YEAR OF THE GOAT

On the Chinese calendar, this year (2015) is slanted as ‘the year of the Goat’. Based on astronomers, it’s supposed to be one for good luck. And, I could always do with an extra dose of good luck anytime.

Anyway, in honor of the goat, I’ve decided to make a  dish called braised curried goat. This dish is certainly one from my roots. Over the years, I must have consumed same repeatedly. Without a doubt, in Jamaica, the beginning of the year (New Year’s Day), every householder cooks and indulges this popular dish.

My dear uncle Dan was and is still a farmer in a rural village of a parish called St. Mary, Jamaica. He rears goats and other farm animals for consumption. Uncle Dan was and is still a generous man. He often doled out sizable portions of goat meat during the holidays. Oh, I can still remember the delicious and mouth-watering dishes prepared from those goat meats.

And speaking of goat, this brings back even more memories as a girl in my island home of Jamaica. My next door neighbor kept a female goat. Let’s call her Nanny. Looking back, I’m babbled this guy was allowed to keep a goat in a residential community. But, I guess that’s what sometimes happens in a laid-back island domain.

The thing is, that goat went off and got herself pregnant. Well, her owner was the ‘love guru’ and arranged the affair. Each day, he took her out to pasture and subsequently Nanny mated and had baby goats (kids). As a girl, it was fun for me and my siblings to stretch across the fence and feed and pet them. Those kids were so cute.

After a while though, things became rather troublesome. Those cuties grew into adults and created quite a mayhem on a daily basis. Their baaing grew louder and louder in the community. They even ate and sometimes destroyed plants in neighbors’ yard. I do think that man and his family bribed the entire residents by doling out fresh goat’s milk.

So, back to my braised curried goat. I fetched a couple a pounds from the butcher at my neighborhood indoor farmer’s market. The cost was $3.99 per pound. Although they were  ready for cooking size-wise, I further cut them into smaller portions.

MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR BRAISED CURRIED GOAT (MUTTON)
MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR BRAISED CURRIED GOAT (MUTTON)

Ingredients:

  • Goat (2 lbs)
  • Curry powder (2 tsp or to your preference)
  • Cumin (1 tsp)
  • All spice(pimento) (1tsp)
  • Onion (1small)
  • Celery (1stalk)
  • Root ginger (1tsp)
  • Scotch bonnet pepper (1)
  • Jamaica white rum (2 tbsp)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Thyme (2 sprigs)
  • Irish potato (2 small)
  • Coconut oil (2 tbsp)
  • Soy sauce (2tsp)
  • Vinegar (2tbps)
  • Cold tap water
  • Sugar (pinch)

Preparation/Method:

  1. After a quick rinse of goat meat, it was marinated overnight with crushed garlic, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and curry powder.
  2. Mutton was brought to room temperature. Then, in a sturdy hot skillet with a few drops of coconut oil, mutton was added with a teaspoon of finely chopped ground ginger.
  3. On medium heat, meat wassauteed for about five minutes. Then rum was added.

    MUTTON IN HOT SKILLET READY TO BE BRAISED
    MUTTON IN HOT SKILLET WITH FINELY CHOPPED GINGER READY TO BE BRAISED
  4. Chopped seasonings and thyme were also added. Then, cold tap water was added to cover meat.
  5. Lid was placed on skillet under low to medium heat. Whenever water evaporated additional water was added until meat was fork tender.
  6. Approximately fifteen minutes into cooking process, add chopped Irish potatoes. These will aid into thickening of gravy.
  7. A taste test of dish is done and if additional seasoning or spices are needed these are added.

Guys, I served my good luck dish with steamed Jasmine rice and steamed veggies. And, like a true Jamaican, I also had a serving of avocado and fried plantains. I’m feeling lucky!

A TRADITIONAL JAMAICAN CHRISTMAS DRINK….SORREL (ROSELLE)

Sorrel is the flower from the hibiscus plant. It’s deep red in color which makes it just ideal for the yuletide season. Another name for it is Roselle. It takes approximately six months to mature. And is in full bloom during the Christmas period.

Fresh cranberries
Fresh Sorrel

In Jamaica, sorrel drink is a traditional beverage that is very popular at Christmastime. There are two types, the dried and the fresh. The dried version is available all year round. With a quick rinse under tap water, these buds are ready to be immersed in boiling water.

Prepping (rinsing) sorrel and root ginger for boiling water
Prepping (rinsing) sorrel and root ginger for boiling water

Ingredients needed:

  • Sorrel
  • Root ginger
  • Sugar or any sweetener
  • Jamaican white rum (Wray/Nephew) (or any white rum available
  • Red wine (optional)
  • Lemon/lime juice
  • Pimento (all spice) [optional]
  • Water

In this recipe I’m using the fresh version which is less potent. However if the dried ones were used it’s advisable to use extra or double amount of water and other ingredients.

Method:

  1. Rinse sorrel/ginger and place in a stock pot or big glass bowl.
  2. Pour boiling water on sorrel.
  3. Crush or grater root ginger and add to sorrel along with a few pimento seeds.
  4. Cover with lid and place it in a cold dark area of pantry in order to prevent fermentation.
  5. Allow it to steep until the buds become pale in color.
  6. Strain and add lemon/lime.
  7. Sweeten with light brown sugar or sweetener of choice.
  8. Add rum and/or to sorrel drink if desired.
  9. Serve over cracked ice.

IMG_20141130_173013Sorrel drink ready for consumption

What would set off this perfect yuletide drink is a piece Jamaican fruit/rum cake. In Jamaica, they go hand in hand. Bear in mind that sorrel drink can be stored in the refrigerator for months. Salud!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!