Recipe: Salt Fish Stew

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This fish stew, a Bajan staple adapted from Laurel-Ann Morley's Caribbean Cuisine Old and New, has a rich, full flavor that is all umami, thanks to ingredients like fried onions and garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and, of course, plenty of salt. Serve it with cou cou to create what is essentially Barbados's most traditional meal.

    • 1 pound salt fish, soaked overnight
    • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
    • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 chives, chopped
    • 3 tomatoes, chopped
    • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
    • small piece hot pepper, minced
    • 2 cups water
    • few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
    • salt and pepper to taste

Remove any bones from the fish, and shred it. Heat the butter in a saucepan and fry onions for five minutes over low heat but do not let them brown, then add the garlic and cook for two minutes more.

Add the chives, tomatoes, thyme, and hot pepper. Fry for five minutes.

Add the water and Worcestershire. Cook about 10 to 15 minutes longer.

Add the shredded salt fish. Cook for two to three minutes more. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, place a mound of cou cou on a serving platter. Make a large indentation with a soup ladle or large spoon and pour stewed salt fish with lots of gravy in the center.

To read Rebecca's post about the little-known cuisine of Barbados, click here.

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Rebecca Rothbaum is a New York-based freelance writer who has contributed to the New Yorker, Gourmet, New York magazine, and O, The Oprah Magazine, among other publications.

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