Late breakfasts, lazy Sunday lunches and posh desserts are the stuff of dreamy, relaxed weekends. Weekdays are a whole other story.
Sure, it’s nice to have a fabulous repertoire of sensational epicurean delights to wow your family. But of what use is haute cuisine when you find yourself completely exhausted with only microwave time to get dinner on the table?
Enter the Wednesday meal. You know that dish that you can make blind and in your sleep. I call it my Wednesday meal because that's the day of the week when I usually want a bit of reprieve from the kitchen. You won’t find this in many cookbooks nor will it grace your plate in a restaurant. However the combination of smoked herring, rice, dhal and bhaji is a traditional meal that every Trinidadian knows well.
With the exception of the dhal, each component of this meal only takes 10 maybe 15 minutes to prepare. You will forgive me the omission of the dhal as the cooking time is longer.
Dasheen Bush Bhaji
2 bundles dasheen (rolled younger leaves)
6 cloves garlic
1 tsp oil
1 tablespoon curry
4 ochros (okra) optional
1 pk (50g) coconut milk powder
Salt to taste
Here is what you do. Boil some water and put smoked herring fillets to soak. Now, feeling all virtuous that you are about to nourish your family instead of cave and reach for the takeout menu, prep dasheen leaves and heat oil on medium high. Mix the curry with water and add to the pot. Cook for about 2 mins.
Finely dice a garlic clove or six.
Yeah six is definitely better.
Then in a wide, deep pot, sauté the curry and the garlic. You want this mixture to get wonderfully fragrant, but without burning. Monitor the heat and keep moving everything around the pan. Add the dasheen leaves, ochros (okra) if using, coconut cream powder and 1 cup of water. Cook it all on medium heat until the callaloo melts in the pot and the water is cooked off.
While that is bubbling away, cook your smoked herring.
1 lb smoked herring fillets
2 medium onion
1 hot pepper (optional)
6-8 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 Trinidad pimento peppers (optional)
1 sweet pepper(optional)
Start by putting the fillets into a fairly deep bowl and cover with boiling water. This will help remove some of the salt and make the fish tender enough to shred. Let it soak for about 10 – 15 mins. Salt content varies so taste a tiny piece of fish before going on to the next step. If it is too salty repeat the first step and steep the fish in boiling water again.
Drain the water from the bowl and rinse the fillets with a fresh batch of cool water. Squeeze dry and start shredding the fillets into small pieces. You will encounter a few small bones. Remove as many as you are inclined too but don’t worry if you don’t get them all because they are very soft and can be safely consumed.
Chop the rest of ingredients and set aside
Sauté the onion, garlic and seasonings in 1 tablespoons of oil. Then add the tomatoes and cook about 2 minututes. Add the flaked smoked herring and hot pepper (optional) and allow it to cook for about 10 minutes.
Boil some rice, a squeeze of lime over the bhaji and dinner is ready. See that wasn’t too hard was it? So tell me what is your favourite easy to prepare Wednesday meal?
This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday.