Image (c) Felix Padilla
“Fish is a must-have during the Lenten season. Tradition rules on Good Friday, and many households cook fish. There is Salt Cod, Smoked Herring, Salted Mackerel, Smoked Fish (Sapate), King Fish, Carite Salmon, Cavali, etc. Ground provisions are a favourite accompaniment. I always have Salted Mackerel and Provision during this season. It’s the only time you get the mackerel.” – Felix Padilla, Simply Trini Cooking
2 lb. salt mackerel
1 lb. dasheen
1 lb. cassava
1 lb. sweet potato
1 lb. yam
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 pimento peppers, finely chopped
1 medium sweet pepper, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
6 medium tomatoes, finely chopped (about 2 – 2 1/2 cups)
8 leaves chadon beni, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup room temperature water
Chopped hot pepper to taste (optional)
Wash and peel the ground provisions. Boil the yam separately because it takes a little longer to cook than the other ingredients. Boil the rest of the provisions together with 1 tablespoon salt. Cook until a knife inserts easily. Drain well and set aside.
Soak the mackerel for 15 minutes, drain off the water then add the mackerel to a pot with fresh water, place on medium heat and boil for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the bones and gently remove the tender skin. Use a light scraping motion to get the skin off. I found that when I held the knife at a 45 degree angle away from me (knife edge that is), to scrape the skin, it came off easily!
Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat until hot. Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened. You may need to turn down the heat a little so as to avoid the garlic browning too quickly.
Add the pimento and sweet pepper. Add the tomato and allow to cook for 2 minutes. Add the mackerel, chadon beni and celery, and mix thoroughly.
Add the water and simmer for two minutes. If using, add the hot pepper, cook for 1 minute then remove from heat.
In place of salt mackerel, regular saltfish can be used as well as smoked fish such as de-boned red herring. The flavour of the dish will be different based on the type of cured fish used.
Chadon beni is also known as culantro. If you cannot find this herb, use fresh coriander/cilantro as a substitute, however, you will need to use about 1/2 cup of roughly chopped cilantro.
This recipe was published in the June 2015 edition of Cooking Sense Magazine