It’s Saturday night, I hear music blaring in the distance and I’m up, trying my best to post this recipe before Sunday hits. I’m trying to do this so that it can become a part of your Sunday lunch/bunch/dinner. It should be. It’s as delicious as it is vibrant- what its colors will do to your eyes its flavors will do to your taste buds. You simply MUST try this one.
Pineapples are a part of my life. They are staples here in our house. I picked up two along the roadside (translation: I purchased them from a roadside vendor-many of whom are scattered along the way to Mayaro) when driving down to Mayaro a few days ago and decided to incorporate it into this lovely salad that I learned to make while I was away at school.
Down here in Trinidad we have something called ‘chow‘. Traditionally made using mangoes- the best are greener or at least half-ripe (I actually love sweet, ripe mango chow the best, but most will disagree). Chow is made using the ubiquitous chadon beni (bandania) herb, garlic, salt, pepper, vinegar/lime and a tip of sugar. It’s sort of a pickled fruit salad? I’m not sure of what’s the best way to describe it, but I’m going to venture out on a limb here and say that Trinidad owns chow! Ask any Trini about chow and they will begin their description with a nostalgic glean and a mouth ‘full of water’. It’s ours.
Pineapple chow has grown in popularity since some genius on the heights of the North coast road en route to Maracas decided to make it. Since then many have perfected the art of making pineapple chow. I was lucky enough to have a bit left over and decided to incorporate it in my black bean salad. I would have to say the decision was a good one! I will definitely be doing a post on pineapple chow in the very near future.
This served as dinner for me last night and part of lunch today. I threw in some raw beets because I just love beets. This salad is filling as a main but works really well as a side too. Of course, since I’m doing the 4 week salad challenge I can’t say I’ve used it as a side…it’s my only focus. I ate this with grilled chicken breast for dinner and for lunch the next day I had it with a piece of steak. I’d say the 4 week challenge is in full swing and it’s really causing me to come up with great new salads 🙂
scroll down for the printable saltfish accra recipe
Today is an extra special day- it’s my father’s birthday!
Happy Birthday to a wonderful father and an inspirational mentor!
I decided to make him a very special treat today- one of his favorites- saltfish accras. My sibling hosted a decadent breakfast spread for him- eggs, bacon, sausages, homemade waffles and homemade hash-browns; I provided the accras as a little addition to all of the deliciousness!
Accras are the Caribbean’s answer to crab fritters; traditionally made from saltfish (salted pollock/cod) these golden brown, salty gems have earned their well deserved reputation of being delectable treats all across the Caribbean. I’ve had them and heard of them on different islands- many times by different names like saltfish patties and fish cakes- but what unifies them no matter the island is their great, unmistakable flavor.
These are by far one of my most favorite foods from the Caribbean region- fried golden parcels of savory richness- perfect as an accompaniment to any breakfast/brunch or as a standalone appetizer with a variety of dips. These saltfish accras can also be served as an alternative to a fish burger- fry bake providing the best ‘bread’ for these tasty treats- topped with a selection of condiments.
Today’s version of accra included shrimp- a wonderful, textural addition to any accra. Conventionally accras are made using saltfish, but many have perfected shrimp accras, (unsalted) fish accras and any other seafood combination. Unfortunately, I don’t know the history of accras and why they are traditionally made with saltfish (if anyone reading this knows the history of accras please do not hesitate to post it in the comments below!) but I can imagine Trinidad in the older days, friends liming and looking for something to nibble. I picture one friend offering to whip up something quick and having the cured saltfish on hand, some seasonings and flour and thus was born ‘the accra’. I like doing this- imagining the better, old days.
Today has been a a milestone for me; I created my very first recipe!
It’s exciting because I never really thought that I’d be able to ever create a recipe from scratch; I mean, I’ve been cooking since I was about 14 years old, but mainly recipes handed down to me from my parents, grandparents and really anyone else whose food tasted good!
But today I decided to try it all on my own. I did get inspiration from cookinginsens, a fellow blogger. I really enjoy reading her recipes and viewing her photos and I feel that inspiration for cooking can come from anywhere. This particular recipe was posted back in 2011 and it appealed to me because of the use of mustard and sweet potatoes; it also looked delicious! So I drew from this recipe’s ingredients to create my own dish- Coconut Ginger Maple Chicken. I hope you try it and I hope you find it as delicious as everyone else who has tried it today does!
This recipe uses only fresh ingredients and aims to utilize more natural products than processed, artificial ones. I’ve chosen to use maple syrup as my sweetener since it’s very mild and effective at balancing the coconut milk, ginger and other spices and herbs. I’m sure you can just as easily use honey or agave but I haven’t tried those so I can’t say for certain. I used freshly made coconut milk but it’s easily accessible here in Trinidad, if you can’t get hold of one you can use canned or powdered coconut milk, but fresh is always better! Although this recipe calls for many different spices and herbs the flavors are very subtle and not at all overwhelming.
2 whole chicken breasts- you can use halved breasts but I think the whole breasts would remain more moist
4 tsp authentic natural maple syrup
4 tsp stone ground mustard
1/2 whole dry coconut(powdered/canned coconut milk can also be used)
3 cups hot water
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 chadon beni leaves (substitute with cilantro/coriander leaves~about 1 Tbsp finely chopped)
1/2 Tbsp finely grated ginger
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 1/2 cups natural coconut water
2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 thyme sprigs
1/2 Tsp salt
1 Tbsp good olive oil
Preheat oven at 400F. Make a rub of mustard salt and 2 tsp maple syrup and use it to season the chicken breasts; leave to marinate for at least 1 hour. During this time prepare the other ingredients and make the coconut milk. Remove coconut flesh from hard shell (you would need to open the shell by throwing it on the ground! Then scoop out the flesh by hitting the shell with the back of a metal spoon or knife to loosen the flesh- it should then be easier to remove). Grate the coconut or if you have a good enough blender, blend it until very fine. Carefully add in 3 cups of hot water and blend until ‘milk’ becomes visible. You can blend for sometime to extract most of the flavor. Press into a fine wire sieve reserving the milk for use in the sauce.
At this time put chunks of potatoes and sweet potatoes into a caserole dish and cover with coconut water, cover dish and let cook in oven at high heat. In the meantime as potatoes cook heat olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the chicken breasts at high heat. Brown for about 3 minutes on each side lowering heat if necessary so as not to burn the mustard/maple syrup rub. When nice and caramelized remove from heat and leave the remaining ‘rub’; To this add coconut milk, ginger and nutmeg and 2 tsp maple syrup. lower heat so as not to cause the milk to curdle and the sauce to break. Just before completion add in finely chopped chadon beni or cilantro/coriander.
Add chicken and thyme sprigs to potatoes and cover to complete its cooking. When the chicken is tender and cooked and the potatoes are cooked remove from heat and let stand for about 10 minutes covered so as to absorb all of the flavors. Cut each breast into half and over it pour the coconut ginger maple sauce- strain if necessary to make a smooth sauce.
Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve hot.
Serving ~ 4 persons
Suggestions~ this would also go really well with mashed potatoes or plain rice. Serve with chilled coconut water or coconut water/rum (Angostura 1919/Single Barrel/Zacapa Rum) for an extra kick!