In honor of St. Thomas’s annual Carnival celebration the recipes featured this week are traditional West Indian fare, served in island homes and restaurants and of course Carnival Village. We like our food spicy so be forewarned but do give a try to Fried Fish with Fungi and Carnival Creole Sauce.
West Indian Fried Fish
Use fresh whole fish (yes, that means with skin and bones and leaving the head on does make for a nice presentation) allowing one small fish per person. Use whatever white firm fleshed fish that you prefer (locally we like parrotfish or snapper). After scaling and gutting, season well both inside and out with a good creole style seasoning (my favorite is by Tony Chachere, called More Spice Less Salt). Allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour before frying in hot oil until brown and crispy. I know this isn’t the healthiest dish in the world but it’s not nearly as bad as fast food fried fish which has all that grease-absorbing breading!
If you like Italian polenta or New England corn meal mush you’ll love Fungi! Try it served with baked chicken with Carnival Creole sauce, too.
This is super simple to make. I find I get the best results using the cold water method – no lumps! Put 1 cup cornmeal into a saucepan, add 1 tsp. salt, stir in 2 cups cold water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to thicken. Stir in 1 Tbsp. butter, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for approximately 15 minutes.
Carnival Creole Sauce
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. thyme leaves
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes (or substitute fresh)
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp. vinegar
- Hot Peppers *
* (I use scotch bonnet, 1 or 2 depending on their strength – it varies. You could probably substitute jalapeno or whichever other type you prefer. And, of course, if your palate isn’t quite as asbestos lined you could just use a shot of tabasco instead)
Combine all ingredients and simmer for about 20 minutes or until onions and pepper are tender. Serve over fish and fungi.