Last week while briefly helping my sister in the kitchen at the King and Queen of Caribana event, I saw how easy it was for my mom to make up batches of fry bake to stuff with saltfish and/or shark. She made it seem so effortless I was convinced that I could easily master this. The “one” problem though.. I can’t knead flour. Then I remember that when the girls and I make pizza we would get the dough already premade from the grocery store. Could this pizza dough work?
Typical fry bake does not contain yeast , but pizza dough does have this active ingredient. Don’t be alarmed though, the pizza dough gives it the normal crispy/crunchy outside but I find with the yeast the inside is much more fluffy and the dough itself is very easy to work with.
Fry bake is very similar to fry roti and the only difference I could see between the two is the shape. When my mom would make fry roti she would use the rolling pin to make a huge circle, then cut that circle in 4 wedges (like how you would slice pizza) and deep fry it the very same way as you would fry bake. Same thing, different names!
Note: We all know the warnings about eating too much fried foods, so try to use an oil that’s low in cholesterol and saturated fats.
1 package of pizza dough (I think it’s about 1 lb)
Vegetable oil for frying (about 3-4 cups)
flour for dusting
If you’re making the dough from scratch you’ll need…
4 cups flour (sifted)
1 teaspoon salt
3-4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups water
* (Knead and allow to rest for about 30 minutes at least)
Using the pre-made pizza dough, remove from the fridge and allow to come up to room temperature. Then open from package and divide into tennis ball size dough balls. Dust your counter, hands and rolling pin with flour so the dough does not cling or stick while working with it.
Since 3 is more than enough for me I put the remaining dough in a freezer ziplock bag and into the freezer it goes for the next time I feel like having some fry bake. The next step is to put the oil to heat in a frying pan and start making the dough balls into the required circle shape. Using the rolling pin (remember to dust with flour) work back and forth, flipping to the other side until you form a circle about 6 inches in diameter.
When the oil is heated place the dough you just worked into a circle. Remember to place it in the hot oil in an action so it’s away from you to prevent getting burned with the hot oil. As soon as you place it in the hot oil (within a few seconds), using a fork try to flip it to the other side in a quick motion. I was told that this helps it get that even surface and allows it to swell so you have that pocket that you can stuff. Continue flipping every 30 seconds or so until it’s swollen and gets to a nice golden brown colour. Remove from the oil at this point and place on paper towels to get rid of some of the excess oil used in frying. Repeat these steps for the remaining dough you have.
Serve hot so your guests will get that crunchy exterior that’s so wonderful. To stuff, all you have to do cut it open as you would slice a bagel and stuff with whatever you feel like having. Typically it would be stuffed with saltfish buljol and/or deep fried tidbits of battered shark meat and topped with coleslaw, slices of tomato, cucumber and some sort of hot sauce and/or garlic mayo.
If you ever visit Maracas Bay beach in Trinidad you must try the bake and shark at Richard’s.. this joint is so popular with locals and tourists alike, it was even featured on Andrew Zimmern show, Bizzare Foods. Andy also listed it as one of the top 10 food he’s ever had.
Besides being something you can stuff, fry bake is our version of bread at breakfast and can also be used to eat with stews and curries. We’d just rip a piece and dip it into the wonderful gravies from curry and stewed dishes as I’ve featured here in the past.