My hubby asked me yesterday how we were going to cook a Jamaican meal for friends this afternoon if we did not have any plantain? With the best laid plans the intention was to try and get some this morning but we got a bit behind schedule and cleaning the flat became a higher priority. Ah well we just had to make do. I'm a bit nervous actually blogging about my Jamaican cooking...
- Because really it's not that authentic as a lot of it comes out of tins and
- Well I don't know how good I am at it and
- WE DID NOT HAVE ANY PLANTAIN, which I might add is the simplest and usually most mouth watering part of the whole meal!
Anyway I nervously forge ahead.
First on the menu is rice and peas probably the most authentic part of the meal and the bit that can go very wrong. I religiously follow my Dad's recipe which I have saved written down in an old diary and is the only reason why the diary has never been lost or thrown away.
I have found that the real trick is to make sure to get your measurements right. That simply means it's the same cup measurement for the rice, kidney beans and coconut milk. Also no rice in this country takes 40 minutes to cook! Then once it's cooked leave it to dry out for a bit as the grains will separate. It was not a bad effort even if I did not have any scotch bonnet (yes that's another thing...I managed to cook this meal without scotch bonnet!) It appeared to go down a treat with the guests and my son had some and he liked it.
Callaloo is easy. It comes out of a tin so you just need to spice it up with some onions and pepper.
Johnny Cakes are nice and simple. You just need self raising flower, some salt (I'm afraid that I don't measure it), some butter (again it's go for broke, this time I actually added too much) and slowly enough cold water until it forms a soft dough. Then I deep fat fry them. I get the oil really hot then actually turn it down before putting the johnny cakes in so that they don't cook too quick as once I found that the outside cooked well before the inside.
For the Ackee and Salt fish, the only detail really is preparing the salted cod. You simply soak it for at least 30 minutes then boil it so that you can flake the fish off the bone. Then its just a matter of frying some onions, scotch bonnet and spring onions, until the onions soften. There are some who add bacon at this point but I don't usually. Add the salt fish, then add a fresh tomato with the ackee and fry for another five minutes stirring gently. I usually season with a bit of thyme.
and of course the ackee comes out of a tin...
The Jerk Chicken is another forgery really. Simply season the chicken over night with some jerk seasoning which you can now easily get from your local supermarket. The only recommendation I would make is to use the wet seasoning and not the dry for this. I then fry them for a bit and finish the cooking in the oven just to get a bit juicier.
So that's it. I have now bravely shared my version of a Jamaican meal when living abroad in the United Kingdom. It's really great these days because you can get so much here now to help you out and usually from your local supermarket. Other favourites include spiced bun, Ting, Plantain chips, rum and of course fried plantain.