A TASTE OF HOME (JAMAICA) #PICKLED RED HERRING AND SAUTEED CABBAGE

So, over the week-end, I went a tad naughty and indulged in dish atypical of my weekly diet. All roads led me to a Jamaican experience. Needed something tasty and a little salty. Knew what I had to do. Didn’t have to venture far. Had left-over pickled red herring in close sight in refrigerator.

Because  the sodium content is high in pickled red herring, I made sure to extract same by repeatedly rinsing, boiling and soaking. After taste-testing, fish was simmered in: drizzle of coconut oil, sautéed onions, garlic, tomatoes, scotch bonnet peppers, crushed pimento, pinch of sugar, and splash of vinegar.

Served pickled red herring with a slightly sweet and sour sautéed cabbage with slices of nature’s butter (avocado). This gave a perfect balance to the pickled fish.

ANTI-AGING DISH?! #BRAISED PIGS’ FEET AND BEANS

Recently, my palate went on a wild ride. And, I went with it.  Lo and behold, it led me to an old dish from my Jamaican roots. It has been sometime since I’ve indulged in this tasty and rustic dish. In the culinary world, it is reported that pigs’ feet have re-emerged in a huge way. A number of  New York-based Japanese restaurants have included these trotters in dishes.

Pigs’ feet are also called pigs’ trotters and are widely served in Jamaican, Asian and Southern,(USA) kitchens.  In recent times, this dish has been touted as the new superfood. You see, based on researches, pigs’ feet are loaded with collegen. Collegen is the protein responsible for skin and muscle tone.

Had some time on my hand and decided to pay a revisit to this anti-aging dish. Pigs’ feet were seasoned with salt, black pepper, pinch of curry powder, crushed garlic, soy sauce, etc. In a sturdy skillet, seasoned pigs’ feet were browned on both sides so as to lock in flavors.

Roughly chopped root vegetables and spices were added in the form of celery, onions, bell peppers, pimento(all spices) thyme, and finely chopped scotch bonnet pepper. Then feet were covered with cold tap water.

Pigs’ trotters were simmered on low to medium heat for approximately two and half to three hours until they were fork tender. Extra water was added during the braising process as needed. About ten to fifteen minutes to end of cooking, drained can of butter beans were added along with chopped scallion.

Braised pigs’ feet were served with a side of sweet and sour sautéed purple cabbage and steamed Jasmine rice.(not in pic)

Guys, I don’t know about you, but as I pen, my imagination has gone on overdrive. I can feel my skin tighter. And, I surmise that I look younger. Well, I’ve been told so. Eh, strangely enough, could it be those feet? You never know. Go fetch those feet and save on beauty products.

SAUTEED PICKLED RED HERRING ##BLUE MOON

It’s the week-end; and, I’m in a kind of naughty mood. You see, in my culinary mind’s eye, there’s a full blue moon. And, when this rarity develops, almost anything can occur in my kitchen.

I was in the mood for something a tad salty, spicy and chock-full of amazing flavors. Moreover, I craved something that reminded me of my earlier years in Jamaica. Thus, all roads led me to fillet pickled red herring.

MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR SAUTEED PICKLED MACKEREL
MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR SAUTEED PICKLED RED HERRING

Herring pieces were cut into smaller portions. And because pickled red herring contains extra sodium I made sure to extract same. I did this by repeatedly rinsing, soaking and boiling for a few minutes until I was satisfied with the level of sodium I needed.

In a hot skillet, a drizzle of coconut oil was added. Then, sliced onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, scotch bonnet peppers, crushed pimento and garlic were sautéed on low to medium heat.

Pickled red herring was then added and allowed to simmer under low heat in order to absorb all the aromatic flavors. Also, because seafood loves acid, a drizzle of vinegar was added along with a pinch of sugar for a fine balance.

FISH HEADS RULE!! #FISH BROTH (TEA)

I had just finished my morning’s work out and my endorphins were kicking. Moreover, I had all this pent-up energy within. What did I do? I headed for my kitchen and grabbed a couple of snapper fish that I had reserved for tomorrow’s dinner. Immediately I had a clear plan. I grabbed my cutting board and butcher’s knife and went chopping.

Those big guys stood erect and stared back at me. Their eyes were brilliant as they ogled me. It was as if they were beckoning me to come and get them. And I did. I took my knife and gently but firmly removed their heads, and set them aside. Where I come from, we don’t toss these.

Funny how a couple of fish heads bring back heart-warming memories when things were simple. You see, my dad used to bring home these King fish heads at least once a week. And mom being that ‘iron chef’ that she was turned out some mouth-watering fish broths for the entire family (well, it was one of dad’s favorites). In Jamaica, we call it ‘fish tea’. It’s a cross between soup and broth. It’s an excellent starter for a meal.

So, with that in mind, I decided to replicate my dear mom’s fish tea. I gathered a few root vegetables and fish heads.

SOME OF THE MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR FISH BROTH (TEA)
SOME OF THE MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR FISH BROTH (TEA)

With a few rough chops I added same to stock pot and allowed them to simmer under low to medium heat. I also added veggie bouillon and seasoned along with a pinch of jerk sauce, crushed garlic,thyme, pimento and salt and black pepper to taste.

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

Close to the end I tossed in a few pieces of blanched chopped okra I had in the freezer.

In less than half an hour my fish tea was ready for serving. In my broth (tea), I don’t strain; everything  is consumed. It’s vital to be careful of all those bones. I don’t worry. By now, I’m a pro!

FINISHED FISH BROTH (TEA)
FINISHED FISH BROTH (TEA)

I know what I’ll be having for a light lunch today. I’ll pair with some crusty English muffins with a smear of butter. By then, I’ll be relaxed and ready for a siesta. By the way, the rest of the fish (body) will be done up in an escovitched. I can’t wait.

A REVISIT WITH THE LUCKY GOAT ##CURRIED GOAT #SUNDAY’S SUPPER

I got a tad tired of the usual chicken and fish dishes. I craved for a meal that was bold and pungent in flavors yet delicious and mouth-watering. And so, my culinary mind led me to an old favorite, curried goat (mutton). This dish is very popular in kitchens across my native island domain, Jamaica. I have consumed same quite a number of times as a child as well as an adult.

Part of the work was done by my butcher. Although mutton was chopped up in sizable pieces, I further cut up in even smaller bite-size portions. Goat was seasoned with:

Ingredients:

  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Curry powder
  • Cumin
  • Crushed garlic
  • Crushed pimento(all spice)
  • Onion
  • Thyme

Method:

  1. In a stock pot, a drizzle of coconut oil was added along with goat.
  2. Goat was sautéed for a few minutes under medium heat. Two table spoons of Jamaican white rum were added.
  3. Then cold tap water was added to cover meat along with thyme, additional crushed garlic, onions celery.
  4. The lid was placed on pot and mutton slowly simmered under low to medium heat for approximately two and half hours.
  5. Additional water was added as needed every 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Minced scotch bonnet peppers, scallion, chopped onion were added to dish so as to further add extra spice.

Curried goat was served with steamed Jasmine rice and sautéed vegetables. The finished dish was bold, delicious and succulent.

A SWEET/SOUR/SPICY SNAPPER FISH DISH

I had a couple of snapper fish left out for thawing overnight in refrigerator. Fast forward to this afternoon, they perched on the square plate looking firm yet limp awaiting my attention. Clearly, they were fully thawed and ready for action. Guys, to tell you the truth, I wasn’t in the mood for fish. That happens sometimes, my dear palate made a last-minute switch on yours truly. However, I knew I had to make a dish with same as I hate to re-freeze seafood.

Thank God, it was an unseasonable dry day. Finally, spring has arrived in South Florida, USA. The temperatures were mild (Florida-style) and the humidity was low. As I flung open my windows and sliding doors, I smiled and thought, “great day for fishing.” I hate to cook fish in an enclosed space. I made my merry way to my kitchenette and did a quick scoring of my fish. I seasoned with salt, black pepper and crushed garlic. My plan was to make a sweet, sour and spicy snapper dish.

As the beautiful fluttering Florida breeze hit my drapes, I dried my fish with paper towel and removed the trace of garlic. In a hot skillet with canola oil covering the bottom, fish was pan-fried on both sides with a stuffing of fresh thyme in the cavities for extra flavoring.

PAN-FRIED SNAPPER FISH
PAN-FRIED SNAPPER FISH

My plan was to cook a crispy exterior and flaky flesh. And bingo, that was accomplished. I drained the excess oil from fish on paper towel and then discarded the used oil from skillet. To skillet, I added a drizzle of oil under low heat and tossed in carrots,onions, finely chopped scotch bonnet pepper, thinly sliced lemon along with pimento seeds.

I made sure to season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Veggies were sautéed until they were translucent Then, I diluted a teaspoon of sugar, vinegar (mainly distilled/red wine) and fresh lemon juice. This was then added to veggies and simmered to a sticky, sweet, sour and spicy consistency.

As soon as I ladled this on the fish, they sucked up every square inch of the sauce. I allowed that to soaked up all the goodness and later paired on a bed of warm corn and purple cabbage succotash.

SWEET/SOUR/SPICY SNAPPER FISH ON A BED OF CORN/PURPLE CABBAGE SUCCOTASH
SWEET/SOUR/SPICY SNAPPER FISH ON A BED OF CORN/PURPLE CABBAGE SUCCOTASH

My palate surrendered and we both became united. To say that I was happy is an understatement; I was ecstatic with the final dish.