Today I felt transported back to my childhood, to my teens, and then my young adult years. On a Sunday when Pop began cooking early and the delicious aromas filled the apartment. When I would visit from college and after I officially moved, one of my favorite requested Trinidadian meals was Cou-Cou, Stewed Fish (King or Red Snapper) or Salt Fish, Callaloo, and Fried Plantain.
Early December Pop requested to prepare this meal. However, after doing the shopping I was informed that the gas in the building would need to be shut off indefinitely. So as not to waste the Red Snapper (cause it cost a grip at Whole Foods), I seasoned it and off to the freezer it went. Well, the gas was FINALLY (Yeah, that’s another story) restored a couple of days ago. And, wallah.
Here we have Cou-Cou, Stewed Red Snapper, Callaloo, and Fried Plantain. You have to understand the significance of this moment as this is the first time I’ve ever prepared Cou-Cou and Callaloo. Yep! And, my brother Greg said “This is better than a lot of places sis.” “You ever thought about opening a restaurant?” You can cook sis. When you want to.” Yeah, cause I’m not a consistent cooker.
What I know is I’m a good watcher and cooking is in my blood after all with my Trinidadian and Bajan roots. My father and mother never gave me lessons, however, DNA and roaming in and out of the kitchen served me well.
I would imagine Pop was watching over me today to give a measuring nudge here and there. However, for the Cou-Cou I did look up a Bajan recipe as their Cou-Cou (main ingredients are corn meal and okra) has a very nice texture. While seemingly simple, similar to grits, you can easily go left when preparing Cou-Cou. It’s all about the proper liquid measurements and consistent stirring. And, I went out on a limb with the Callaloo, going from my memory of watching. Callaloo is spinach and okra with a piece of smoked Turkey. Pop would use pig tail. A cousin puts crab legs.
For my meal, the textures and the seasonings are perfect. And, the fact that the fish was marinating in its seasonings for a few weeks… Ooooo Weeeee!!! Tasty! Perhaps I’ll create a new tradition, and have this meal become my annual New Years Day meal in honor of Pop. I’m sure he’d loved that. Bon Appetit! Enjoy! 🇧🇧🇹🇹 #BeDoLove #FindYourZen #LivingOutLoud #BeDoLoveSAVOR #BonAppetit #IChefToWriteAboutIt #BirthAndLiveYourSoulFULLPurpose #Yummylicious #Yummyliciousness #Foodie #FoodieLife #FoodPorn #ExpandYourPalate #Trinidad #Barbados #WestIndianFood #CaribbeanFood
“Cou-Cou consists mainly of cornmeal (corn flour) and okra (ochroes). Because these main components are inexpensive, the dish became common for many residents in Barbados’ early colonial history. Cou-Cou derives from the island’s African ancestry and was a regular meal for those slaves who were brought over from Africa to Barbados. Traditionally served on Fridays, Cou-Cou and flying fish is Barbados’ national dish. In Trinidad and Tobago, Cou-Cou (or coo-coo) is often prepared alongside Callaloo and either stewed or fried fish. In Ghana, a similar meal of fermented corn or maize flour eaten with okra stew and fish is known as banku, a favorite dish of the Ga tribe in Accra.” —Wikipedia