Our National Dish
Barbados' national dish is flying fish and cou cou, traditionally served on Fridays. The skillfully boned flying fish is rolled and stewed down in gravy made with herbs, tomatoes, garlic, onions and butter. Cou cou is similar to polenta, made with yellow corn meal but cooked with finely chopped okras, water and butter (as you can see, butter is like a Bajan staple when it comes to cooking). Cou cou can also be made with breadfruit and green bananas and is served with salt fish or beef stew. Salted cod is also used for another famous Bajan dish, fish cakes and a tasty picnic and party dish, buljol.
Fish and Seafood
A wide variety of fresh fish is available like barracuda, king fish (wahoo), snapper, bill fish, yellow fin tuna and dolphin (no, not of the Flipper variety), also known as mahi mahi or dorado. The most common way these are cooked is to season it with Bajan seasoning, coat it with egg, dust it in breadcrumbs and fry it in hot oil. Less often seen are the reef or pot fish like chubb, which are very enjoyable. Also popular are shrimp (lovely in a curry), crab and lobster (in garlic butter sauce) which are widely available but considered more of a delicacy in the average Bajan household. Flying fish is most popular and besides being steamed to eat with cou cou, it is also brilliant when breaded and fried. Flying fish eggs are also eaten as a delicacy with the male eggs referred to as melts, which are delicious fried, and the female eggs called roe. The latter is exported to Japan where they are processed and used widely in the preparation of sushi.
Chicken usually heads up every Bajan's shopping
list. On Sundays it is stuffed with a fresh herb stuffing made with local Eclipse crackers and baked whole. It is also stewed, barbecued, baked, stuffed with Bajan seasoning and fried, cooked with rice to make pelau, curried boiled into a delicious soup with vegetables and the list goes on.
Whether a roast pork with diamonds of crackling, a baked ham, stewed down pork chops or Bajan pudding and souse, the quality of Barbadian pork is especially delicious. A local delicacy is black and white pudding made with sweet potato and herbs served alongside soused pig head and trotters. There are many people throughout the island that make and sell pudding and souse on Saturdays starting work in the wee hours to be ready for lunch time. The gamey mutton of the black belly sheep and beef are also commonly consumed as stews over rice, or baked in shanks. The legacy of the Arawak Indians is a special stew of a variety of meats and poultry including these three. Cassareep (a cassava preservative invented by the Amerindians) and peppers give pepperpot its flavour. They would dig and fire a big hole in the ground into which went all the ingredients. Every time their hunters made another catch it went into the pot. You'll be relieved to know that today pepperpot is cooked in a clay pot or slow cooker, instead of a pit.
Whereas the diet of most cultures tends to focus on one staple, the starch served with a meal in Barbados varies widely: sweet potato, yam, breadfruit, eddo, green banana, bakes, cassava, rice, cou cou, pasta or potato. Rice is more than not cooked with some kind of pulse such as pigeon peas, black eye peas or split peas. Breadfruit, a large green football-sized fruit has a similar taste and texture to potato with a subtle difference that makes it interesting. It is served lathered in a tomato and onion, butter sauce or a fresh cucumber and lime souse, mashed or as crisp wafer thin chips. The ground provisions are made into all kinds of delicious recipes such as yam pie and candied sweet potato. Bajan sweet potatoes are starchy and quite unlike the waxy orange variety seen in American supermarkets. Green bananas, which are extremely high in iron, are mashed into a cou cou, curried, souses or added to stews and soups in dumpling sized pieces. One of the more popular starches with a meal is actually a baked macaroni and cheese
'pie', as it is most commonly and simply called.