xmlns:fb='http://www.facebook.com/2008/fbml' St. Lucian Green Fig Salad

Sunday, September 23, 2012

St. Lucian Green Fig Salad

Some of my best relationships are formed with people I encounter in the ladies room at work, at the supermarket or while commuting....Can you relate? These are the people you see occasionally, you chat with for a few minutes, you listen to their troubles, you share yours. You never exchange phone numbers with them and sometimes you never even know their name…(or remember it)…but every time you meet it’s like you are old best friends. 

Petra is one such friend. If I see her on mornings, it means that I am late..very late.. because she takes the later train. We talk about our kids, life, her husband’s love for fish…and I always enjoy giving her meal ideas, recipes and encourage her to make healthy meals for her son who is autistic. One morning, I couldn't wait to tell her about a recipe using cod fish and green bananas, which I knew her husband would love.  After I was done, she looked at me with surprise and patriotic pride and said, “that’s our national dish!” That’s when I learned that Petra, my friend, is from St. Lucia. My cousin, Sam, who first told me about this dish is married to a St. Lucian....and then it all made sense to me....

Petra mentioned that at one point green figs were St. Lucia’s main export crop and this is one of the dishes that was created using the abundance of green figs on the island . She said that everyone makes it on Sunday and it’s also a popular dish at many events on the island. 

I asked her to share her recipe with me hoping to learn something new…......“Boil the figs whole with the skin because the skin has nutrients, slice it. Boil your salted fish about two times, leave a little saltiness in it, cook it dry with garlic and onion, boil the mixed vegetables, drain and add it to the salted fish, then add sliced figs and add mayo to your discretion, because some people like a lot and others don’t..oh I forgot, add a garlic clove to the figs while they are boiling to help it keep the color”…..and when I thought she was done she said, “I forgot to tell you the secret(now she had me excited), add grated onion to the mayo, it gives it a great flavor and when you taste the onion, it is ummmmmm sooo good!!" I was sold on St. Lucian Fig salad after that conversation. 

When my cousin and I prepared this fig salad [the same cousin I made the escovitch with],  we did not cook the salted fish with onion and garlic nor did we boil the veggies---for the sake of simplicity. We used Trader Joe's Organic Foursome veggies which are definitely the most tender, tastiest and sweetest frozen veggies to be found anywhere. We mashed one of the figs to create a slightly smoother consistency and texture.  We added scallions, parsley and garlic for more flavor. 

Since I couldn't eat much of it because of the mayo, I dropped off the leftovers for my mom. She loved it so much, she called me for the recipe a few days later and made it in abundance for Saturday dinner the same week. Mummy confessed that my salad tasted better. Receiving a compliment from my mom is equivalent to winning a James Beard award for culinary perfection. I am still glowing with the memory of the "win"... 

In order to indulge the next time, I plan to use home-made mayo, which is on my list of things to try, or I'll probably saute all the ingredients in olive oil, garlic and onion.....or most likely make an olive oil dressing for it. I am sure this dish was equally delicious before the islanders reinvented it with the addition of mayo.

One thing I know....I can’t wait to eat this combination again---soon. It really is Caribbean comfort food...

St. Lucian Green Fig Salad
Serves 6-8, as a side dish

½ (half) pound salted codfish, skinless and boneless
6-8 green figs (aka green bananas, about 2 pounds)
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, defrosted and drained
½ large yellow (red or orange) sweet pepper, seeded and diced
2 scallions, finely chopped
½ cup mayo (for a creamier salad use 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic (1 whole and 1 grated)
½ small onion, grated
2 sprigs parsley, finely chopped (for garnish) 
Salt and pepper to taste

**** free to adjust the quantity of mayo and salted fish according to your preference.

Wash the green figs. Cut off the top and bottom and slice skin lengthwise. Bring about 8-10 cups of water in a large pot to boil. Add one clove of garlic and the green fig. Boil 10-20 minutes or until fork tender, sometimes it may take up to an hour to boil!

Remove skins, and dice. Using a fork mash one of the figs.

While the green figs are boiling, rinse salted fish. In a small pot, add about 2 cups of water and salted fish. Boil for 5 minutes. Drain and repeat a second time(if still salty). Drain boiled salted fish in a colander. 

Alternately, you can rinse the salt fish, add the salt fish to hot water for 10 minutes, then test and flake.

Flake using fingers or fork. Dice sweet pepper, scallions and parsley. Grate one clove of garlic and onion.

Note: You can also boil the mixed vegetables for a few minutes to tenderize it(then drain). 

In a large bowl, add chopped figs, mixed vegetables, diced sweet peppers, chopped scallions, grated onion,  grated garlic and mayo. Mix well. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy..

Let me know how it turns out....Write me if you have any questions. 

Until I'm in a creative state of mind again, 
Hopefully soon,

1 comment:

Cooking with Ria said...

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