From St. Kitts With Love: Stewed Saltfish & Green Banana


The story of the “West Indies”, the Caribbean could be told through salted fish. The European explorers and flesh traders needed away to preserve highly perishable fish over long distances across the Atlantic and perishables in general as there was no refrigeration as we comfortably enjoy now.

Every island has their take on salted fish most notably Jamaica with their national dish Ackee & Saltfish. I will introduce to you the Kittitian, St. Kitts & Nevis, (see review of the island here) style of preparing stewed saltfish – also our national dish – which is quite different from the reknowned Jamaican recipe.

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This recipe has to be prepared the night before.

Ingredients

1lb salted codfish – to make things easier you can by them boneless. DO NOT buy the precut kind.

1 lime for soaking with the fish overnight

2 Bell Peppers one green and one red

2 cooking onions

2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dry

2 tsp dried oregano

2 fresh tomatoes

1 can tomato paste or 1/2 cup tomato sauce and some ketchup (I am Canadian, lol)

Olive or Coconut Oil for sauteeing

1 bunch green bananas – this does not mean underripe yellow bananas. Green bananas are ungassed bananas. Don’t buy these more than one day before since they will start to ripen.

There is nothing more unappetizing than even slightly ripened bananas in this recipe.

Preparation

Soak the salted fish overnight in water with 1 lime cut in two. We do this to cut the flat saltiness of the fish. Allow to soak for a minimum of 12 hours. When the fish has soaked and you are ready to start, save this water that you are going to throw off for boiling the green bananas.

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Instructions

Put soaked and strained fish into a heavy-bottomed stock pot or dutch oven then pour fresh, cool water until it is covered with about an extra inch or two of water then bring to a rolling boil on high heat.

While it is boiling, slice all of your peppers and onions. The peppers are best julienned and the onions and tomatoes in rings.

Test with a fork or tongs once the fish is well-boiled to see if it starts to flake. Once it is flaking it is ready to be cooked with the veggies.

Strain off the water reserving about 1 cup of it for cooking. In that same pot heat your cooking oil then add the onions, thyme and oregano and stir until fragrant.

Add the saltfish and combine then place the veggies and onions and combine. Cover and let steam until water starts to spring from the ingredients in the pot. If the food starts to get a little dry, add the reserved water from boiling the fish. Allow to simmer on medium heat checking in to stir and combine further.

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Fill another large pot with the salty water that was reserved for the green bananas. While bringing that water to a boil prepare your bananas. Watch that pot because if you don’t it will start to spill over quickly caking your range with salt.

Rinse the green bananas then chop off the two ends, slice down the middle and take out the actual banana fruit. BE CAREFUL with your favourite tea towels because green bananas leave stubborn black stains. My mom is still sore at me for ruining her jaunty duck kitchen towel.

Once the water is boiled up place the green bananas in that pot and cook for 15 minutes or until they are soft. They will spit up a few times because the salt content is so high so just be careful. Once they are cooked you can let them sit in that water until you are ready to serve them.

Once your stewed fish is well simmered and combined stir again and add the ketchup to give it a little bit of balance and stir again. If it is a little watery boil up and reduce a little further then remove from heat and allow sauce to thicken.

We HIGHLY suggest frying up some plaintains to go with. If you don’t know how to make fried plantains have no fear. We have got you covered.

Prepping & Cooking Perfect Fried Plantains

While saltfish is typically a breakfast it can be eaten – and usually is – any time. It goes very well with boiled eggs but the essential side are Johnny cakes.

Johnny Cakes From Real Jamaica Vacations

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup water
2 tbsp butter or margarine
Oil for deep frying

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a large bowl. Cut in butter lightly. Mixture should look like crumbs. Gradually add water, kneading until a smooth, firm dough is formed.

Divide dough into balls, about a tablespoon in size. Knead each one lightly. Flatten each ball slightly, then fry in hot oil. Serve hot. Can be eaten whole, or cut in half and spread with butter or margarine. Great with Ackee and Saltfish, and other breakfast dishes.

So as you can see, this recipe takes a bit of work. The point of this recipe is to get the family involved. In the islands, the whole town raises a child. An example, it was not a weird or a strange thing for my aunt to get a call at work from a fellow Kittitian reporting that they sawher son walking down the Bay Road ~ the busiest section in the capital of Basseterre St. Kitts ~ because, well, that’s how it is.

So enlist your best choppers, slicers and pot watchers for this family feast. NO gossping allowed because it’s not nice!

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Until next time Flavour Lovers,

Mama FlavourFull

CONNECT with us on on Twitter @DiasporaKitchen & see all the spicy happenings @AlimaSauce.

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