9.19.2010

Saltfish Buljol

Trying to capture the essence of true Trinidad and Tobago culture and cuisine is going to be a challenge. Seizing a moment; any given time, a snapshot of what its like to be here-now and transposing the real everyday wonders and miraculous nothings. I will forever endeavor to do it justice.


Saltfish Buljol Trinidad Style
In Trinidad and Tobago, when someone offers you Saltfish, or you see it on a menu it means a Buljol of Salted Fish. I have seen a number of meanings for the word Buljol, but from my experience of Caribbean Fusion expect the meal to be prepared almost like a salad with sea food as the base. Usually a fleshy fish is used (though I have had it with squid), it is cooked and chopped finely or flaked, mixed together with chopped onions, garlic, tomatoes, tossed in olive oil and fresh lime or lemon juice and served at room temperature. Buljol recipes using salted fish, all over the Caribbean are really not that different, their variations are subtle; adding hot peppers, sweet peppers, chives or avocado. 
Salted Pollock
To me these are all things you can add to the base recipe if that’s your preference, and if you are purchasing it prepared from a restaurant in Trinidad, you ain’t getting avocado in it (expensive and popular item) nor are they lacing the whole public offering with hot Scotch Bonnet Peppers (the local flamer measuring 100,000-350,000 on the Scoville Scale).  

Clockwise from top: Onions, Garlic, Salted Fish, Tomatoes, Thyme Leaves (centre)
Trini Saltfish Buljol is made from either salted Pollock or Shark. In earlier years Cod was used until the Atlantic Cod population began to decline and its price skyrocketed. You can buy salted fish here at any grocery, established market or any self respecting neighborhood shop (we call them parlours). Easy to prepare and enjoy any time, it is considered a breakfast item and accompanied by your choice of a variety of bread like sides. 
Saltfish being prepared (boiled & flaked)
Done right, the taste of the fish is not salty, but the salting process concentrates the essence of the fish such that it is infused and fragrant with the good fish flavors. The dish is balanced with the aromatics; onion and garlic while the tomatoes add texture and their acidity enhances taste. The oil and fresh lemon put it over the top, cleaning and sharpening up the flavors. The liquid that springs from these ingredients marrying is best eaten by sopping it up with torn bits of fresh bread, bake or nann held with your fingers grabbing the flesh then shoving it into your mouth with lip smacking delight. 
Plan to eat this when you don’t have to make out with anyone soon after, but do plan.
Saltfish Buljol and Garlic Nann (w/red pimento)


4 comments:

K Bailey said...

Wow I just had this yesterday at my wife's Trini friends house, Gooood!

~Melissa said...

Glad you liked it. Did you remember it from your time here? What do you remember of Trinbago cuisine? Is there anything you crave from time to time?

Zoƫ said...

I am not so much into food but your blog makes me think I am. Your photos and descriptions of the events make it all seem deliciously exciting! Congratulations on your really good work!!

~Melissa said...

Thanks so much Zoe :-)
We hope to make you an official convert in the future. Visit often and be fed!