It has, somehow, been a year since I posted to this site.
As I wrote in the Russia entry, it is challenging to simultaneously have a baby and a blog. The baby is now a toddler, and blogging is mildly easier, but it absolutely remains a challenge.
Take, for example, the task of finding ingredients for a national dish. A trip to five ethnic grocery stores with the kid means:
- Bringing a diaper bag, and the very real possibility of using it
- Buckling and unbuckling the toddler 5 times each
- Monitoring said toddler through these stores, while also trying to find the needed ingredients
- Giving up, in reality, after 2 stores because the toddler wants to go home.
This is not to say I am not enjoying parenthood. My kid is great. But when it comes to Nation Plates, the task has gotten much more challenging.
For Saint Lucia’s national dish, green fig and saltfish, I had just two challenging ingredients – the “green fig,” which, as far as I can tell, is a severely underripe banana, and the saltfish, which is salt cod.
I remember when I bought the salt cod. I was getting groceries at New Seasons in Woodstock, toddler (or was she an infant back then?) in tow, when I had the idea that I’d go a block down and get the salt cod I needed for this recipe.
Did I have the stroller? Nope. So I carried a 20ish pound ape to the Portland Fish Market, along with my bag of groceries, held both while they got my salt cod from the freezer, then walked back to New Seasons, got in my car and went home.
The cod has been sitting in my freezer for months.
Part of that, too, was my aversion to cabbage. Having not read through the recipe, I just saw “cabbage” and “cook for a few minutes” and thought “eugh.”
But it turned out that green fig and saltfish is one of my favorite Nation Plates. Today, July 4, 2017, I decided to make it for lunch. I had already soaked the salt cod overnight, so I was committed.
The cooked salt cod left a great umami flavor, balanced by the sweet, starchy bananas and the spicy habanero. The cabbage stayed crunchy.
I would, I will make this again. And now that I know where to get the ingredients, I can be efficient with my preparations, and not let parenthood get in the way of a good meal.
Green fig and saltfish, via several sites, notably Caribbean Pot
- 2 lbs green bananas
- a few turns of black pepper
- 1/4 ts salt
- 2 Tb vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 habanero pepper
- 2 cups cabbage, chopped
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 Tb parsley
- 3/4 cup salt cod
- 1 medium tomato, cubed
- Soak the salt cod overnight in water.
- Rinse the salt cod, then put it in a pot of water and boil for 25 minutes. Rinse again under cold water, then shred until you have 3/4 cups of cod.
- Cut the ends off the bananas, and then cut a seam lengthwise along one of the ridges in the banana, otherwise leaving the peel on the banana intact.
- Put the bananas in salted water and boil for 20 minutes, until the banana skins start to change color. Drain and cool the bananas.
- Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the salt cod, and turn the heat to low, cooking for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom.
- Add the onion, garlic, hot pepper, black pepper and thyme, and cook for 3 minutes.
- Toss in the shredded cabbage and stir.
- Remove the banana fruit from their peels, and then cut the fruit into one-inch pieces and add to the pot. Cook for about 3 minutes.
- Add the tomato, stir, turn off the heat, and cover the pot. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Stir one last time before serving, scraping off the bottom of the pot (the juices from the vegetables should deglaze the bottom of the pan, getting up some super-flavorful fish.)