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Classic Jamaican Cooking
Traditional Recipes and Herbal Remedies
By Caroline Sullivan
SerifCopyright © 2014 Stephen Hayward
All rights reserved.
This is prepared in many ways, some preferring it thin, others thick. A good family soup may be made as follows.
Two pounds of turtle stew meat
Three pints of water
One large onion or some spring onions
A sprig of parsley
A few tomatoes
A piece of salt pork and a piece of salt beef
Thickening of flour
One wineglass of sherry
Get two pounds of turtle stew meat or a little less and stew it down the day before you make your soup, with cloves, cinnamon and mace. Next day put the stew and its gravy into three pints of water with half a pound of turtle soup meat, add an onion or some spring onions (some people put a turnip and a carrot), some parsley, herbs and tomatoes. When it has boiled for half an hour, add the salt pork and salt beef cut in pieces. Let it boil for another hour, then remove any fat, dice it and put it in the tureen with some of the soft gristle as well. Let the soup boil for another half-hour, adding water if too low, then strain it through a colander. Put the strained soup back in the pot and put in a good tablespoon of flour previously mixed smooth with water, then add a little Worcester or Harvey's sauce, the juice of a lime, some salt and a little cayenne and stir till it is nice and thick like cream. Pour this over the fat and gristle-dice in the tureen and serve, adding just before serving a wineglass of sherry.
Two dozen okra
Four pints of water
Indian kale or calaloo
One and a half pounds of salt beef
A penny-halfpenny worth of salt pork
Put the okra into the water and boil until the seeds turn red, then add the pork and beef and go on boiling, adding the seasoning and other ingredients. Finely chop some kale or calaloo, add it to the soup and serve. The soup can be steamed if preferred. A few black crabs boiled and added to the soup make it excellent.
Sugar bean soup
A penny-halfpenny worth of fresh green sugar beans
Three pints of water
Some bones of soup meat and a little salt pork
Add the beans to cold water and bring to the boil. When half-done, add a little soup meat and some salt pork. If preferred, the beans are left in the soup and it is then served unstrained. Children are especially fond of it, particularly if a little potato or yam is also boiled in with it. The addition of a few tomatoes is according to taste.
Red pea soup
One pint of peas
Four pints of water
A penny-halfpenny worth of salt pork
Put the peas into cold water and boil for three hours or until soft, adding a penny-halfpenny worth of salt pork about two and a half hours after boiling has begun. At the end of three hours press the peas through a colander. Serve with diced dry toast.
White pea soup
This is prepared in the same way as red pea soup.
N.B. The natives do not strain their pea soup: they eat the whole thing boiled with yam, coco and dumplings and often with a remarkable concoction called 'foo foo' which consists of yam or coco boiled and beaten and then added to the soup. Needless to say, this makes them a decidedly substantial repast. The dumplings are often made with equal parts of flour and cornmeal.
One pint of fish stock
Boil the lobster, seasoning the water it was boiled in. Put all the meat, except the tail ends and any corals, into a mortar with the shell and pound it all together as fine as possible. Add this to the fish stock and the water the lobster was boiled in; season with pepper and salt, parsley, thyme, lime peel and some breadcrumbs and an onion. Simmer quietly for nearly two hours then strain it off. Have ready the tail end of the lobster, diced, and the lobster corals and put them into the tureen. Add a little milk, a dessertspoon of butter and some nutmeg to the soup and give it one boil. Pour into the tureen and serve: some people like forcemeat balls added to this soup.
This is prepared similarly to crayfish or bisque soup.
Half a dozen large jongas (freshwater crayfish)
Grated lime peel
Onion or spring onions
Half-fry the jongas in butter, then pound both flesh and shells together (but reserve one or two whole, to be cut into dice and served with the soup), pound them in a mortar, season highly, adding some grated lime peel, breadcrumbs, onion or spring onions with the usual herbs. Add water. Boil gently for an hour, strain and put back in the pot for a little while with the diced jongas. Add a little butter (about a teaspoon) and half a cup of milk. Stir well and serve hot.
Take twelve ackees: pick them well, taking out the pink part. Put them into a piece of muslin and boil them. Put on two pints of water, one pound of beef and a small piece of salt pork or salt beef to make it tasty, also some seasoning, thyme and spring onions. Mash the ackees until they are quite smooth and mix them with the soup and boil them all together.
One pound of beef
Two pints of water
One small piece of salt pork or beef
Two small whitecocos
Half a pint of hot water
Put one pound of beef with a piece of salt beef or salt pork, two small white cocos and some spring onions and thyme to boil in two pints of water. Boil down to one pint. Grate a small coconut, throw half a pint of hot water on it, then squeeze out the milk. Pour this milk into the soup and boil up, once. Before putting the coconut milk into the soup, the soup must be quite boiled and strained, then add the milk to the boiling soup. Stir well and serve at once.
Three tablespoons of pure casseripe to every Two pints of cold water Salt to taste A handful of bird peppers or cayenne pepper Meat Eggs
Get an earthenware vessel. To every two pints of cold water, add three tablespoons of the pure casseripe with salt to taste and a handful of bird peppers. If these cannot be had, use some cayenne. Cut the meat into small pieces after being well cooked, and put into the pot: boil well for half an hour. Any sort of meat may be used, and hard-boiled eggs are an improvement. It should be warmed every day, and something added each day.
One large slice of pumpkin or half a small pumpkin
Three pints of water
Some soup meat or a little salt pork or salt beef
Cut up the pumpkin, add it to the water putting with it the soup meat (if fresh meat) and a little thyme and black pepper. Bring to the boil. In about half an hour add a small bit of salt pork or salt beef, or else salt to taste. In about another half-hour strain the soup through a colander and serve curried: this soup is particularly palatable.CHAPTER 2
Snappers, mullet, king-fish, mackerel, old wife, calepeaver, cutlass, mountain mullet, lobsters, crayfish, oysters, jongas, crabs, shrimps and turtle all have their season in Jamaica.
There are two sorts of crabs, the white and the black. The former are not generally eaten, being foul feeders, but the black crabs are highly esteemed and are counted among the delicacies of Jamaica.
This is a much esteemed fish, and is good cooked in any way. Boiled and served with butter and parsley or oyster or anchovy sauce, it must be appreciated by everyone. Kingfish steaks, that is, kingfish cut up into thick slices and broiled with onions, are excellent, especially if a rich brown gravy is added. Opened and stuffed with breadcrumbs and oysters and served with tomato sauce, they make a rich and agreeable dish.
These are esteemed one of Jamaica's delicacies. They are of excellent flavour but the drawback to them in many people's opinion is the number of small bones they possess. The nicest way of cooking them is rolling them in buttered paper and frying them, sending them to table in the paper, but they can of course be fried plain or boiled if preferred.
This is a long ribbony fish and it has small bones at the side, which must be carefully taken away; very good cutlets can be made of this fish, but it also makes excellent fish cakes or fish pies. They do well for kedgeree, a mixture of boiled rice, picked fish, mustard, butter and curry powder.
This fish is sometimes called the salmon of Jamaica. It is a very rich, delicately flavoured fish, most often to be had in the vicinity of Spanish Town. The size varies, but they are sometimes very fine and large. The best way of cooking this fish is to boil it; putting it on (after carefully cleansing it and rubbing it with lime juice) in hot water with a little salt in it, boiling slowly, allowing ten minutes' boiling to each pound of fish. Shrimp and butter sauce or oyster sauce are good additions, but perhaps butter and parsley is best, and a cut lime handed round for its juice to be squeezed over the fish.
Jongas are a kind of small crayfish which are often found in the mountain rivers. They are cooked like lobsters and make an excellent stew, fricasee or curry.
Of these there are two sorts, the round or raw-eaten oyster and the flat or cooking oyster. The former are small but very delicate in flavour; they can of course also be cooked. The flat oyster is the best for scallops or patties, or in any cooked form. The way to open them is by placing them near the fire so that the shells open of themselves.
More than half-boil a lobster, then take it out of the water and shell it as quickly as possible. While hot, rub it well with butter, put in a Dutch oven, baste it well until nicely frothed and serve with melted butter.
One small lobster
Lime juice and lime peel
Cream or milk
Shell a small lobster and chop it fine with seasoning and nutmeg, onion, tomato, pepper and thyme, with a little grated lime peel and some of the juice of the lime and some salt. Add a dessertspoon of butter and about as much cream or milk and two tablespoons of grated bread. Mix all together with two beaten eggs: make balls, roll in egg and breadcrumbs and fry. Put either a rich white sauce or brown gravy in the dish, the croquettes on the top, and serve very hot.
One tablespoon of butter
Plenty of pepper and salt
Jamaica pepper or pepper wine
Boil the lobster, then shell, pick and chop it fine. Add a tablespoon of butter, plenty of pepper and salt, a little Worcester sauce and some Jamaica pepper just to flavour, or some pepper wine; a little vinegar too. Mix all these ingredients well together, put them in a small buttered pie dish, breadcrumb it, put a little dab or so of butter here and there and bake.
Half a pound of lobster flesh
Two ounces of butter
Two teaspoons of chopped onions
One teaspoon of flour
Two egg yolks
Cut up the lobster. Put two ounces of butter and two teaspoons of chopped onions in a saucepan; add the lobster and fry for a minute or two. Stir in one teaspoon of flour mixed smooth with water; add half a pint of milk, salt, pepper and cayenne, two teaspoons of chopped parsley. Let it boil a little, stirring all the time: add the lobster, give it a boil, add the two egg yolks; mix quickly and put into a dish to cool. When cool and firm, divide into six parts and shape like cutlets; egg and breadcrumb twice. Put a piece of the very small claw to the end of each cutlet so as to form a bone; fry for a few minutes, as you would a sole, in plenty of lard or fat; lay on a cloth and serve on a napkin with plenty of parsley. No sauce is needed. The lobster may be prepared, shaped and breadcrumbed some hours before wanted.
These are queer flat fish. They should be cooked like the English sole. Wash them carefully and dry them well, then dust over a little flour; egg and breadcrumb them, and fry a light brown, turning them when one side is done. Serve with melted butter and garnish with parsley.
A cottony fish. It should be stewed in a rich brown sauce with onions, tomatoes and herbs, with a glass of port added towards the end of the cooking and thickened with a little flour. A little fresh pepper makes an agreeable addition, but very little.
Baked fish no. 1
Clean, rinse and wipe dry any kind of fish; rub with salt and pepper; fill with stuffing, the same as for poultry, only drier. Sew up and put in a pan with some hot dripping and a lump of butter. Dredge with flour and lay over the fish a few thin slices of salt pork or dab with bits of butter. Bake for an hour and a half, basting occasionally.
Baked fish no. 2
Any cold fish
Boil in milk twice as much macaroni as you have cold fish until it is soft. The cold fish should be broken into small pieces and the bones removed. Mix the fish with the macaroni, which should be cut in dice, the grated cheese and cayenne. Put it in a flat dish with breadcrumbs and some pieces of butter on the top and bake a light brown. Any fish will do for this dish.
One and a half pounds ofturtlesteak
Bread or biscuit crumbs
Cut the turtle into cutlets, rub well with onion and sprinkle with pepper, sauce and lime juice. Get ready some bread or biscuit crumbs; add nutmeg and some onion or finely minced spring onions and tomatoes. Dip the cutlets into the eggs previously stirred in a plate, then into the seasoned crumbs. Cover well and fry, serving with cut lime and parsley.
One and a half pounds ofturtle
A small piece of salt beef
One tablespoon of sherry
Mince the beef and turtle together very fine. Add some chopped tomatoes, spring onions, herbs, salt and a very little Jamaica fresh pepper; add a squeeze of lime juice, a little sauce, a tablespoon of sherry, a little spice and two well- beaten eggs. Make into balls and fry, sending them to table with a rich, well-seasoned brown gravy, to which add another teaspoon of sherry and lime juice.
Two pounds ofturtlesteak meat
Rub the steak well with lime juice. Have ready some boiling lard in a frying pan. Put in the meat whole. (Some people cut it in pieces, but it is really best done whole, or it is likely to get tough or dry.) Put with it some black pepper and sliced onions and tomatoes. Cover it over a little; when half-done it will make its own gravy, but if not quite enough, add a tablespoon of water and, if a thick gravy is wanted, a little flour and butter rubbed smooth together with the water. The steak takes from twenty minutes to half an hour to cook.
Serve with the fat put on the top of the meat; squeeze some lime juice over the whole and garnish with cut lime and slices of onion and tomatoes.
Two pounds ofturtlestew meat
Two pints of water
A few tomatoes
Take two pounds of turtle stew meat, wash it well with salt and lime juice and put it into two pints of cold water; then add a stick of cinnamon, a large onion, a few tomatoes, some parsley, thyme, herbs and pepper.
Stew gently for three hours, adding water now and then if it gets too low. About a quarter of an hour before serving, mix a good tablespoon of flour smoothly with a little water, sufficiently liquid to pour into the pot to thicken the stew. Stir. At the last minute put in a dessertspoon of sauce and half a glass of sherry; mix well and serve with a cut lime to squeeze over the meat.
Boiled black crabs
These are liked either plain boiled or 'baked in the back' as the expression is. Plain boiled, they come to table whole and they have really more flavour that way, but there are many small bones and there is much difficulty in eating them at table. The claws contain the principal meat; the back is to be opened and the gall removed; the black water inside possesses much flavour. When in full season the eggs are numerous and excellent; boiled in soup they are delicious.
Baked black crabs
Carefully pick the meat from all the claws and smaller bones of a dozen boiled crabs; this takes a long time and careful picking. Then open the backs and extract the eggs, throwing away the galls and putting aside the black water which is to be added again at the last minute. When all the picking is done, add two tablespoons of butter, a teaspoon of black pepper, a dessertspoon of sauce or pepper vinegar, a little cayenne and some nutmeg to the meat. Mix well, adding salt to taste, and fill as many of the backs as you can, leaving room for a dressing of breadcrumbs on which dabs of butter are placed to moisten. Before putting the meat into the backs, put one or two eggs in each shell and do not forget to mix in the black water, as that has the full black crab flavour. The twelve crabs ought to make ten good crab back fillings.
Excerpted from Classic Jamaican Cooking by Caroline Sullivan. Copyright © 2014 Stephen Hayward. Excerpted by permission of Serif.
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Table of Contents
ContentsForeword by Cristine MacKie, 7,
Salt Fish, 37,
Puddings and Preserves, 69,
Cakes and Biscuits, 122,
Savouries and Sauces, 139,
Herbal Remedies and Household Hints, 161,
Meals for a Small Family, 176,
Publisher's Note, 184,
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