This recipe is a combination of many things. It’s a take on a recipe my mom would make but instead of using canned salmon as I did, she would normally use pieces of salted cod. Then about a year ago I saw Levis Roots of “Reggae Reggae Sauce” sauce fame cook up a batch of this with the help of some kids… if you’re from the UK and watch the Dragon’s Den you’ll know who I mean. I think he also calls himself the “Dragon Slayer”! But he used fresh caught mackerel in his dish.
Knowing that I had green fig (bananas) in the fridge, I had a severe craving for this sort of “country” dish about 8 pm last night. With no salted fish in the fridge, nor mackerel… the wheels of creativity went spinning and I decided on using the canned salmon that peeked at me from behind the can of corned beef in the cupboard (Mr. Salmon learned not to play hide and seek with a grown man). There’s no better motivation in the kitchen than a craving and hunger!
5-7 green bananas (known as green fig or cooking bananas in the Caribbean)
1/2 teaspoon salt (for boiling the green bananas)
1 medium tomato
1 medium onion
1 scallion (green onion / spring onion)
1 clove garlic
1/4 habanero pepper (scotch bonnet or any hot pepper you like)
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil (any cooking oil you like)
1 sprig thyme (dash dried thyme)
Salt – optional (add as needed)
1 can pink salmon
Note: If you’re shopping for green bananas in North America, they will be called cooking bananas. If you can’t find them in your grocery store, do ask a clerk and don’t buy ordinary bananas that are not ripe yet. You’re looking for ones that are really firm, brilliant green in color and no blemishes. If you’re peeling these as I did before boiling, do wear gloves or coat your hands with cooking oil to prevent the sort of ‘milk’ to cause your hands to be sticky and possibly itch. Don’t get that ‘milk’ (sap) onto your clothes.
Since the green fig will require the most time to cook, go ahead and peel, scrape and rinse them. You can also cook them in the skin and peel after they’ve been boiled. In a deep pot put enough water to cover the bananas and bring to a boil. Then add the bananas and salt.. bring back to a rolling boil and allow to cook for about 20 minutes.
While this cooks, lets prepare the other ingredients. Wash and chop the tomato, scallion, habanero pepper, thyme.. don’t forget the garlic and onion as well.
With the bananas fully cooked, drain and allow to cool while we get things really started. In a large saucepan put the olive oil to heat on a medium heat, then add the onion, garlic and thyme. Let them cook on the medium/low heat for about 3-5 minutes. We’re trying to get the onion translucent and release the rich flavors of the garlic and thyme. Next add the green onion, pepper, tomato and black pepper. Let that cook for about 3 minutes.
The next step is to add the can of salmon, including the water it was packaged in and ketchup. Break it up into flaky chunks, give it a good stir and allow to come back up to a gentle simmer… cook for another couple minutes.
While this cooks, the bananas should be cool enough to touch. Cut them into bite-sized pieces and get ready to toss them into the pot.
The final step is to toss in the cut pieces of cooked bananas into the pot, give it a good stir and allow it to heat through with all the other ingredients in the pot (about -35 minutes) and you’re done.
Since the canned salmon is usually packaged with a ton of sodium I don’t feel the need to add any salt, but do taste ad add accordingly as I’m sure your tolerance for salt will be different than mine.
This is one of those versatile dishes that works for any time of the day (or night as in my case)… even breakfast. Growing up on the islands you know we love our BIG breakfast, so though you may find this a bit heavy to start the day.. a Caribbean man would appreciate this (hint ladies). BTW, there’s enough here for 3-4 people if you have some coconut bake or toast on the side or a complete meal for two people.
To make this dish fully vegetarian, you can omit the canned fish, but add a little butter when cooking the onion and garlic at the start.