Sunday, December 25, 2011

A modest Feast of the Three Fishes

English: The Jamaican national dish of ackee a...
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Jamaican ackee and saltfish served with cole slaw.

Surrounded by meat and meat eaters, I wan't able to assemble an Italian-American Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, but managed a more modest three seafood dishes at two meals.

For breakfast on Saturday, my wife prepared ackee and saltfish, a Jamaican dish that combines a soft, bland fruit with meaty codfish and sweet and hot peppers, and a side of boiled green bananas.

Our Christmas Eve meal included six entrees, half of them brought by our guests; organic brown rice cooked with red beans and coconut milk (called rice and peas); two big bowls of salad, based on romaine lettuce and fresh spinach; steamed French green beans, and potato salad.

I'm not eating meat and I'm cutting down on carbs, so I concentrated on large Tiger shrimp, which I marinated in fresh lemon juice and seasonings for a couple of hours before cooking them quickly on the stove; fresh croaker, salad and green beans, eating only a couple of tablespoons of rice and potatoes.

The others had curry goat, chicken in barbecue sauce, jerk pork and a spiral-cut ham in a brown-sugar glaze.

My wife went to H Mart in Little Ferry, then H Mart in Englewood on Saturday before she could find enough whole fresh fish -- a half-dozen small croakers -- but the fishmonger misunderstood her instructions on how she wanted them cleaned, and cut off their heads.

At home, my mother-in-law fried the fish whole, arranged them on a large platter and covered them in onion, green pepper, whole black peppercorns and hot pepper prepared in vinegar.

This preparation is called "escoveitch fish."

We drank sweetened sorrel with ginger and rum, and sparkling apple cider. 

After dinner, I only had room for almonds, chestnuts and dried dates, though our guests had black rum cake with tea or coffee or took some home. 

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