This is yet another one of those “boil and fry” dishes (I’ve shared a few to date) we enjoy throughout the Caribbean. Food we inherited from our ancestors who made use of the land and with limited resources, made incredible meals. Cassava (aka yuca or manioc) was something we always had growing in our kitchen garden growing up, so it’s presence in soups, baked treats, breads and in dishes like this, was the norm. FYI on some islands smoked herring is known as red herrings.
2 lbs cassava
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 lb smoked herring fillets
1/2 large onion (sliced)
10-12 grape tomatoes (any tomato will work)
2 scallions (chopped)
4-6 cloves garlic (smashed)
4-6 sprigs thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper (sliced)
3 tablespoon olive oil
2 -3 tablespoon butter
Important! I used frozen cassava, which I cooked according to the package directions. I also used smoked herring fillets which were cleaned (skin, head etc removed) and main center bone removed, however it did have some tiny bones. If doing this recipe gluten free, please go through the full list of ingredients to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary requirements.
Place the frozen cassava in a deep pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the salt and reduce to a rolling boil and cook until tender. For this brand of frozen cassava it takes about 20 minutes to cook. If using fresh cassava, peel, cut into pieces and bring to a boil in the salted water – adjust cooking time accordingly. To test for doneness, simply stick a sharp knife though a thick piece and if there’s no resistance, they are ready.
As the cassava boils, I boiled water in my kettle and poured over the herring fillets in a deep bowl. This will help to do a few things, hydrate them, remove some of the salt, along with excess smoke. Let it sit in the water until it’s cool enough to handle.
Drain the cassava and set it aside to cool as we have to prepare it a bit further.
The herrings should be cool enough to touch. Here is where you need gloves or the scent of that smoky fish will remains on your hands for a while. Drain the water, rinse with cool water and squeeze dry. Now shred and in doing so if you see any tough bones, remove and discard. There will be some tiny (flexible) ones, those can remain as they should not pose a choking hazard.
In a large pan/pot, heat the olive oil (any oil you like cooking with will work) on a medium flame, then add the onion, garlic, scotch bonnet, black pepper, scallions and thyme. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 3-4 minutes. (Please watch the video below as I speak about Scotch Bonnet Peppers)
4 minutes later, it’s time to add the prepared smoked herrings to the pot and stir well. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the tomato and 1/2 of the parsley. Mix well.
The cassava will be cool, (watch the video below) so it’s time to chop it up into 1 inch pieces and remove the woody center and discard.
Now toss the cut cassava into the pot and stir well, so the cassava picks up all that lovely smoked herring flavor and cook for 3 minutes. Add the butter to give the finished dish a bit of rich creamy flavor and toss in the remaining parsley and you’re done!
I consider this one of the classics when it comes to Caribbean culinary culture and it brings me much joy to not only share this one with you, but to enjoy it when I get a little homesick for the islands.
This is a complete dish, but you can always start with a side salad if you wish. Drop me your comments below, tag me on Instagram and don’t forget you can now get my cookbook – The Vibrant Caribbean Pot, 100 Traditional And Fusion Recipes @ CaribbeanPot.com/CookBook/