Caribbean Kitchen (Autumn 1994)

Try this unusual fish recipe from Jamaica: Mackerel Rundown

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Mackerel Rundown Recipe

Buy pickled mackerel which is firm to the touch. Allow one medium-sized, very dry coconut for each pound of fish. This recipe serves 6.

2 Ibs. mackerel
3 pts. coconut milk
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. vinegar
1 tomato, chopped (or 1/4 Ib. ketchup)
1 scotch bonnet pepper
Lime juice

1 Having selected firm, fairly large mackerel, remove heads and wash in plenty of cold water. Use lime or lemon to help clean and flavour fish.

2 Soak in hot water for 2-3 hours, changing once or twice to remove surplus salt. Fish must not be too fresh, however, or it will be unpalatable.

3 When fish is about half soaked, prepare coconut milk (see below), extracting rich milk, about 11/2 pints for each pound of fish.

4 Boil milk in a thick-bottomed dutch oven, or in a pressure cooker. The sauce is used just before the milk turns to oil, when a sweetish custard is formed. A tsp. of vinegar, chopped onion, tomatoes and scotch bonnet pepper can be added to the custard. Flake the flesh of the mackerel and add to the liquid, or, if preferred, the mackerel can be cut in pieces and added with the bones. Dumplings made of flour, or flour and grated green bananas, can be cooked in the gravy.

5 Serve with all the gravy and garnish with green sweet pepper.

Cook’s Tip: Boiled green banana or roasted breadfruit is the ideal accompaniment for this dish, which is a popular dish for brunch. Saltfish may be cooked in this way too. Shad may be used, but this is a softer and bonier fish, and requires careful handling.

Coconut milk: This may be purchased in a can, but it is quite easy to make your own and considerably cheaper. All you need is dry coconut and water (some people use cold, some use hot.)

Extract water from coconut by punching a hole in one of the eyes. (This helps to make the dry shell crack and the flesh is much easier to remove.) Ease the flesh from the shell. Grate coconut flesh or cut up and blend in blender or food processor with water, until pureed. Squeeze mixture through strainer to extract milk. The flavour and strength of the milk depends on the amount of water used to squeeze the milk from the grated coconut. Yields about half a cup.

From The Real Taste of Jamaica by Enid Donaldson (lan Randle Publishers, Kingston, Jamaica, 1993)