Pickled mackerel 塩鯖と揚げダンプリング

We then moved on to the one Jamaican dish he remembers from his childhood days which still makes his heart dance. Admittedly, I told Fitz that Jerk was disqualified for him given his stated business interest in Jerk. In addition to his business interests in Jerk, back in his childhood days, Jerk was not as ubiquitous then as it is in 21st century Jamaica. Jerk although it has a very deep and rich history which dates back to the period of colonisation and the enslavement of West African and the local Tainos, for some odd reasons, Jerk was mostly a treat best enjoyed in Boston, Portland, Jamaica. Jerk was a special devised cooking method to infuse the tantalizing rich blend of herbs and spices into the meat which was cooked in a dugout underground pit. The meat was allowed to slow cook without betraying the Maroons’ location to the British soldiers and militias.

Naturally, being a foodie in his own rights, it was a very tough call for Fitz to make. Fitz admitted that he had many fun memories of foods from his childhood days growing up in Lluidas Vale. Being an agricultural rural community, he enjoyed a host of fresh fruits, vegetables, ground provisions, poultry, pig, goat, and cow meat from his family’s holdings at the time. These meals were particularly more amazing on his palates when they hosted the aforementioned former prime Minister of Jamaica to their kitchen where his parents would prepare a feast to help set them on their way as they snaked through the hilly interiors of north central Jamaica. After rocking his brain for a fair bit, he touched a tad bit on “Ackee and Saltfish” the national dish of Jamaica being a main staple in his community at the time. Needless to say, Fitz like many other Jamaicans was a and still is a big lover of the Jamaican national dish which like Jerk, ackee has deep roots which dates back to Ghana and the slave trade from which dried salted cod fish was imported from Canada forming the perfect marriage.

That said however, the one dish which truly made his heart dance was pickled (salt) mackerel. This dish interestingly too, has deep roots in Jamaica’s slavery days. To date, particularly in families with deep rural heritage – which happens to be almost 90% of all Jamaicans, except for a few alterations, the cooking traditions remain largely unchanged. The pickled mackerel dish is a ritual of sorts and is usually a breakfast staple which is more often than not consumed on Sunday mornings and washed down with either a brew of steaming hot chocolate (cocoa) tea, bush tea (mint is probably the main fresh leaf tea enjoyed by Jamaicans) or coffee. Naturally, all these hot breakfast beverages were either home grown or gifts from the neighbours.

Fitz then opened up to share the time honoured secrets with me of cooking the perfect pickled mackerel just like how his mother, an awesome cook in her own rights would do it. The pickled mackerel was first boiled for a couple of minutes and then poured into a colander to drain the salt extracted from the mackerel. The salted mackerel is very salty so the first two steps are most important to help remove most of the salt. When partially cooled the mackerel would then be broken up in to chucks and painstakingly deboned. While the mackerel was being boiled, his mom would set about preparing the seasoning as we affectionately call them in Jamaica. The typical seasoning would include a few stalks of escallion, a sprig or two of fresh thyme, a pepper or two – scotch bonnet being the pepper of choice because of the rich potpourri of aroma and flavours it imparts on the dish, a large onion, tomatoes, garlic and some pimento (both optional). The escallion, garlic (optional) and the onion would be stripped and washed and them sliced or diced. Similarly the other seasonings and the tomatoes would be washed and cut and left to drain a little to remove the water.

The pot would then be heated then freshly homemade coconut oil added. The seasonings would then be added and sautéed to help flavour the oil before the drained mackerel chunks were added. The mackerel would be stirred to help infuse the seasoning and the oil into it. Finally, grounded black pepper would be added. Then when ready it would be served hot from the pot. This was usually complimented with either fried dumplings or boiled green bananas. Fried dumpling is a kind of Jamaican bread made with flour, baking powder, salt and water and then fried in coconut oil.

Around this time, Fitz started salivating and reminiscing on a recent hearty servings of pickled mackerel with fried dumpling he had recently. He then let me in on a little secret that he has developed a reputation as an accomplished fried dumplings maker. But modestly he has not owned the title. He believes Ms. Blanch, a childhood neighbour of his was arguably the best maker of fried dumplings on the entire planet. As a super lover of fried dumplings he has tried many, but to date none has come even remotely close to Ms. Blanches’. The sad truth is that she passed away carrying her secret to her final resting place. It is no wonder, Fitz has spent a lifetime of perfecting his skills of making fried dumpling the way Ms. Blanch would, each time coming a bit closer to perfection but not yet quite there.

Being a massive lover of fired dumplings myself and someone who is able to do my thing in the kitchen but by no means a master, I have invited myself for a hearty servings of Fitz’s pickled mackerel and his special fried dumplings on my next visit to Jamaica. Oh I can’t wait to live the experience.

If you are game for a real healthy serving of a truly authentic Jamaican breakfast feast, and if you are a foodie like Fitz and I, a proper serving of Jamaican “Cooked up Pickled Mackerel with Fried Dumplings” is guaranteed to make your heart dance. It is equally as delicious with a generous serving of “boiled soft nature green bananas, yams and boiled dumplings”. I honestly believe like Fitz, you will be hooked for life. You can never stop craving more. So, when you visit Jamaica, B&B with a Jamaican, home-stay with a Jamaican, visit a Jamaican home or dine at a Jamaican restaurant anywhere in the world, you must try some proper “Cooked up Pickled Mackerel with Fried Dumplings” for breakfast, lunch or dinner and Fitz also believe you should try it with some “boiled soft nature green bananas, yams and boiled dumplings.” Fitz is sure that this will definitely make your heart dance.

Until next time, walk good, stay safe and eat until belly bust.

Next in the series is a food blogger, recipe creator and entrepreneur who is on a mission to share the secret flavours of a signature Jamaican cuisine which harkens back to deep rural Clarendon and its umbilical ties to the history of our ancestors.” Stay tuned.

We love to hear from you. Let us know what you liked about this article. Share your “Cooked up Pickled Mackerel with Fried Dumplingsexperience. 

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Author and Interviewer: Radcliffe Lennox
Translator: Shiho Owada








もしあなたが本物のジャマイカの朝食を健康的に食べたいと思っているなら、そしてもしあなたがフィッツと私のような食通なら、ジャマイカの “塩鯖と揚げダンプリング”はあなたの心を躍らせることを保証してくれるでしょう。茹でた柔らかいグリーンバナナ、ヤム、茹でたダンプリングを一緒にたっぷりと盛り付けても同じくらい美味しいです。正直なところ、フィッツのように、あなたもきっと一生虜になると思います。もっと食べたいと思うのをやめることはできません。だから、ジャマイカを訪れた時、ジャマイカ人と一緒にB&Bをした時、ジャマイカ人とホームステイをした時、ジャマイカ人の家を訪れた時、世界のどこかのジャマイカレストランで食事をした時には、朝食、昼食、夕食に「塩鯖と揚げダンプリング」を食べてみてください。”茹でたグリーン・バナナ、ヤム、茹でダンプリング”と一緒に食べてみてください。きっとあなたの心を躍らせてくれることでしょう。





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著者&インタビュアー:ラドクリフ レノックス

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