Easy Bajan Cooking

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Cou-Cou
Cou-cou is the national dish of Barbados and is similar to polenta or grits, Cou-cou is made with corn meal and okra.

8 oz. Caribbean corn meal
3 oz. okra
1 medium onion (chopped)
3 tbsp. butter
water
salt to taste

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Table laden with Bajan specialties (clockwise from far right): cou-cou, fried flying fish, fried mahi-mahi, fish cakes, cucumber salad and avocado. (Photo by Lyn Dobrin)

In a deep bowl, combine the cornmeal with sufficient water to cover the meal. Set aside.
Cut the tops and bottoms off the okras and slice into rings. Place the sliced okra in a saucepan with water, chopped onion and salt. Bring to a medium boil for a few minutes until the okra softens.
Strain the okra into a bowl, setting aside the liquid.
Add about a quarter of the okra liquid back into the saucepan and add the soaked meal. You’ll need a whisk or wooden stick to stir the cou-cou as it cooks. Use a flat wooden or heavy metal spoon. Stir constantly to avoid lumping.
Add more of the okra liquid gradually. You can tell you’re nearly finished when the cou-cou starts to bubble gently at the surface. At this point. add in the cooked okra slices and continue stirring for another 2-3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.

Sauce
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, cut into thin strips
2 tsp. crushed garlic
2 green sweet peppers, cut into thin strips
1 tbsp. Bajan seasoning (green shallots )
8 oz. stewed tomatoes
1 tsp. sugar
½ cup stock
1 tbsp. Pepper Sauce (turmeric, mustard, pepper, vinegar, salt, starch and hot local peppers if you don’t have a jar yourself)
4 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in frying pan. Fry onions, garlic and sweet peppers for 1 minute. Add Bajan seasoning, tomatoes, sugar, stock and pepper sauce. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 -20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley.

To serve: Place the cooked corn meal mixture in a bowl. Turn the mixture upside down onto a plate. Make a small impression on the top of the mound and spoon some of the sauce on top. Serve with the rest of the sauce.

Sherry’s Fish Cakes

1 to 1 ½ lbs. dry salted bones codfish
1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
1 cup chopped scallions
6 springs fresh thyme, removed from stalk
1 cup parsley, chopped
white pepper to taste
1 Scotch bonnet pepper, deseeded
2 cups white flour
1 tbl. baking powder

Soak codfish to desalinate; pour off the water several times. Boil the codfish for 15 to 20 minutes and drain completely. Flake codfish—can be done in food processor. Combine fish with potatoes, scallions, thyme, parsley, white pepper and Scotch bonnet pepper. Add flour that has been mixed with baking powder. Let rest for one hour.
To cook, heat combination of canola oil and Crisco. Boil the oil and then turn down flame to medium. Drop in 1 tablespoon of codfish batter. Cook three minutes on each side and drain on brain paper and paper towels.

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