Yesterday, I posted the following statement on our Instagram and Facebook about Ramadan which I also wanted to share here. “We are Christians, but the funny thing about faith is that if you TRULY believe in your own faith, you will respect others for theirs. At the end of the day, we are still all humans. We have Muslim friends who wish us ‘Merry Christmas’ and today we wish ‘Ramadan Kareem’ to our Muslim friends around the world. We may be different but we are all humans who have the same hopes and dreams. Let us love and share because it is through our love that people will truly know the God we serve.
We’re sharing recipes for Ramadan for healthy, wholesome, tasty, quick dishes that you can make even if you are fasting for a healthier period of fasting.” My mind was racing for a new one that would capture the hearts and palates of our Muslim friends both near and far. It wasn’t long before I knew just the right recipe to share. It’s one that should have made the blog ages ago and I know that the flavours will bring excitement to your Iftar (or any table). It is a homely everyday meal- with the kind of feel I love about Arabic stews, but with artful presentation, you can make it look quite beautiful on your table. You can also serve it in the pot you cook it on a trivet for your Iftar buffet, which makes your life a whole lot easier because you will avoid breaking up the fish.
This morning after our usual morning workout, I jumped in the shower and got dressed at warp speed. I was out the door in record time (thank heavens for dresses) so much so that I forgot the igloo in the living room. You see, I was on a mission to catch the local fish market before it closed and according to my watch, I had 10 minutes to get there. Now ideally you are better off going first thing in the morning to get fish but as it stands, getting my daily workout punched is more important for me. That said, I got there just in the nick of time, and managed to grab 4 kgs of fresh fish.
Today’s recipe is an all-time Jamaican favourite, Brown Stew Fish. Yes, as opposed to any other colour. Jamaicans are known to be very descriptive in their naming of people and things and all given and taken in very good spirit. We are indeed a fun bunch. We also love fish. Jamaican food has simple ingredients that are put together creatively to superb results. All the ingredients are easy to find and are probably already in your kitchen, with the exception of thyme, a hardy fine-leaf herb avaialble in pots in UAE supermarkets or in the imported fresh herb sachets in Spinneys, it is rather hard to get in this country. It is also an essential ingredient in Jamaican cuisine so I usually buy 2-3 packets and freeze them fresh so I have fresh thyme every time I need it. I absolutely abhor dried thyme as the flavour is just “meh” but if you cannot get your hands on the fresh kind and substitute with dry, I won’t kill you for it. Just know though that the flavour of the dish will be dramatically altered, though it may still be tasty enough to pass.
- 2.5 kg/ 5lbs fresh fish ( whole or cut into steaks)
- 250g okra
- 3 tomatoes
- 3 onions
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 large cloves garlic
- scotch bonnet pepper to taste (substitute with habanero pepper)
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ teaspoon freshly ground allspice
- 2-4 tablespoons coconut oil
- Wash fish in cold water and squeeze a little lime, lemon or a few drops of vinegar.
- Wipe fish dry with paper towel
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan, saute pan (low casserole/rondeau) or wok. Ensure it fully coats the bottom and sides of pan.
- Chop tomatoes, garlic, onoions and slice the ends off the okra and set aside
- Combine salt, blackpepper and allspice in a small bowl.
- Rub the spice mix into the fish, making sure to cover all over including the inside of whole fish and the head.
- Once oil is hot enough, fry fish on each side, only turning once when fish moves easily. Do not crowd the pan, if needed, fry in batches.
- Once all fish is fried, add it to pan and turn heat on high. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, thyme, scotch bonnet pepper and okra
- Add boiling water to almost cover fish and allow the liquid to come to a boil then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Serve on a bed of rice or with boiled green bananas and yams.
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