Saltfish Fritters

Saltfish fritters are a popular snack across the Caribbean, but growing up in the UK I’ve been more accustomed to having them at West Indian parties. They consist of dried salted white fish (usually cod) mixed up in a batter with onion and spices. They are normally shallow fried until brown and crispy on the outside and slightly soft in the centre. The salted fish gives it a unique flavour and texture. Although they are common to many of the Caribbean islands they go by different names. In Jamaica they are known colloquially as “stamp and go”, and in Barbados they take the moniker “Bajan bakes“, whereas in Dominica they are called “accra”. It is thought that they originate as an adaptation of the Ghanaian black eyed peas fritters known as akara or accara. Whatever you call them I’m sure you’ll agree on how deliciously more-ish they are.

Salfish Fritters Recipe

Makes: Around 20 fritters

Preparation Time: 12 hours

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 360 g dried saltfish
  • 130 g plain flour
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp scotch bonnet pepper sauce
  • 0.5 tsp all purpose seasoning
  • 0.5 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 spring onion stalk finely chopped
  • 120 ml water
  • 60 ml vegetable oil for shallow frying

METHOD

  1. Rinse the dried saltfish under the cold water tap and place in a large bowl. Fill the bowl to the top with cold water. Cover with clingfilm and leave to soak overnight.
  2. Drain water then place the fish in a pan, fill with cold water. On a high heat bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Drain the water and when cool break the fish into small chunks.
  4. In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients apart from the oil (saltfish, flour, thyme, pepper sauce, all purpose seasoning, onion, spring onion and water) to form a thick batter.
  5. Put the oil in a deep frying pan and heat over a medium heat.
  6. Use one tablespoon to scoop the batter from the bowl and another tablespoon to push the batter gently into the hot oil. Fry the fish fritters for around 5 minutes each side until golden brown.
  7. Drain well on kitchen roll before serving.

NOTES

  • Serve with a sweet chilli dipping sauce.

Blackened Salmon with Garlic Lemon Butter

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I always feel a little bit fancy when I eat salmon, so this dish is great for a date night or special occasion. It’s perfect for when you want a bit of “wow” factor at the dinner table, but you don’t want spend the whole day and evening in the kitchen. The seasoning in this salmon recipe has a creole influence, and the salmon is pan fried on a high heat. This allows the seasoning to go a nice deep brown colour producing that “blackened” crust. The garlic lemon butter adds a complimentary tangy-ness to the fish.


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Blackened Salmon with Garlic Lemon Butter Recipe

Serves: 4

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 17 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the salmon:

  • 520 g salmon slices with the skin on (around 4 slices)
  • 0.5 tsp cumin
  • 0.5 tsp smoked paprika
  • 0.5 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 0.5 tsp dried oregano
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp light olive oil

For the garlic lemon butter:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 lemon sliced (discard the ends)

METHOD

  1. Mix the dried spices (cumin, paprika, chilli powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, pepper) together.
  2. Sprinkle the seasoning over the flesh side of the salmon.
  3. Heat the olive oil in heavy-based frying pan over a medium high heat.
  4. Place the salmon slices flesh side down in the pan cook for 5 minutes. Be careful not to over crowd the salmon slices, fry them in two batches if there is not enough space in the pan. I find that my 28 cm Anolon Sauté Pan is ideal for this as it has a big enough area to cook all four slices of salmon at the same time. It’s a really versatile high quality pan – honestly the most used pan I have in my kitchen. Click here for more details.
  5. Carefully flip the salmon onto the skin side. Cook for and additional 7 minutes.
  6. Remove the salmon from the pan and place the fillets on a plate and set aside.
  7. Add the butter to the pan, once it is melted add the garlic cloves and stir for 2 minutes.
  8. Slowly add in the lemon slices, be careful as they will sizzle in the pan. Cook the lemon in the butter for a further 1 minute on each side.
  9. Pour the butter sauce over the salmon fillets and top each one with a slice of lemon and serve with the garlic cloves.

NOTES

  • Serve with wild rice or sweet potato mash, and steamed asparagus spears.

Ackee and Saltfish

Ackee and saltfish is the national dish of Jamaica. In Jamaica it is eaten as a breakfast dish, but I think it is perfect for any time of the day. Ackee is a fruit, and like in this dish, it is often cooked as a vegetable. When cooked it resembles and has the texture of scrambled eggs, but has a mild nutty and slightly sweet flavour. The saltfish is dried salted white fish, normally cod (but sometimes pollock or snapper), that has been soaked or boiled in water to rehydrate it and remove most of the salt it was preserved in to make it palatable. The preservation method definitely gives the saltfish a flavour that you cannot obtain from using fresh fish. When combined together the nutty sweetness of the ackee melds so well with the texture and flavour of the saltfish, and it’s so deliciously unique.

Ok, so by now if you were not already familiar with ackee and saltfish then you’re probably thinking of exploring the other parts of my blog or leaving my site completely, BUT PLEASE DON’T RUN AWAY! As exotic as ackee and saltfish seems, it is actually such an easy dish to cook. The ingredients can be found in the “World Foods” section in many of the larger UK supermarkets. And the flavour explosion you’ll have is definitely worth sticking around for.

Now, from my “About” page you may already know that I’m half Jamaican. I’m very proud of my Jamaican heritage, which is why I’d love to share a little bit more about the history and origin of this dish which is steeped in colonialism. I think ackee and saltfish is a perfect reflection of the history of the Jamaican people and is so fitting as a national dish.

Ackee is actually indigenous to West Africa and was brought over from Ghana to Jamaica in the eighteenth century. The fruit itself grows on trees and the closest thing I can liken it to in appearance is a sweet pepper (or bell pepper). As the fruit grows it changes colour from green, to red to orange and as it does this it splits open to reveal three black seeds, and this is how you know it is ripe and ready to be picked.

As for saltfish, this was introduced to the Caribbean in around the seventeenth century. It was brought over from North America in trade ships which would return from the Caribbean with delicacies of this era such as rum and sugar. The preservation method of the cod was ideal for preventing the fish from perishing during the long transatlantic journey. Due to the abundance of cod at the time saltfish was bought as an inexpensive source of protein for the enslaved people. It blows my mind to think about how people going through so much injustice, pain and sorrow could find the passion and creativity in their hearts to produce a dish as resplendent and flavoursome as ackee and saltfish. I’d like to imagine that when this dish was eaten it provided a moment of comfort and hope, even if it was just a fleeting moment.

Ackee and Saltfish Recipe

Serves: 4

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 35-40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 250 g skinless and boneless salt fish
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 0.5 tsp dried thyme)
  • 3 spring onions (white and green part separated and finely chopped)
  • 2 tomatoes diced
  • 0.5 Scotch bonnet chilli finely diced
  • 4-5 pimento berries crushed
  • 0.5 tsp ground black pepper
  • 540 g tinned ackee (drained)

METHOD

  1. Hold the salt fish under the cold tap to rinse off the visible flakes/grains of salt. Then place in a medium sized saucepan.
  2. Cover the fish with cold water and bring the pan to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Use a fork to break off a small piece of and taste it to check the salt levels.
  4. If it is too salty then drain the water and repeat steps 2 and 3 until the salt level is just right for your taste. Remember, you want to remove most of the salt, but leave in just enough for the flavour.
  5. Once the salt level is to your taste drain the water and use two forks to break the fish into large chunks. Set aside for later.
  6. Next, preheat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan using a medium heat.
  7. Add in the onions, the white parts of the spring onion, chilli, pimento, and thyme and give them a good mix. Then add in the garlic.
  8. Once the onions have softened and are translucent add in the chopped tomatoes and stir for about 3 minutes.
  9. Stir in the salt fish and season with black pepper (and salt if you feel you have removed too much during the boiling of the salt fish).
  10. Add in the ackee. Gently use a wooden spoon to distribute the ackee evenly in the pan, but do not mix it as it is very soft and delicate and will start to break up. Cover the pan with the lid and leave to steam for five minutes. Garnish with the green part of the spring onion before serving.

NOTES

  • As I mentioned above, saltfish, ackee, pimento and the scotch bonnet pepper can normally be found in the larger supermarkets here in the UK. Head to the fruit and veg section for the scotch bonnet pepper. The ackee, saltfish and pimento should be found in the “World Foods” section. The ackee will be in a tin, the saltfish will be packaged in a plastic tray normally wrapped in a clear plastic film, and the pimento berries are normally packaged in a plastic tube.
  • Break the saltfish into large chunks around 2-3 cm long as it will break down further when cooking.
  • Tinned ackee is very soft and fragile (it is boiled first prior to being tinned) so always add it in last and do not stir heavily.
  • Serve with white rice, fried dumplings or hard food (a combination of boiled yam, green bananas and dumplings).