Jamaican-Barbadian Coo-Coo with Salt Cod and Okra
Coo-Coo is a dish enjoyed throughout the Caribbean from Trinidad and Tobago to Grenada and Jamaica. In Barbados, Coo-Coo is the national dish. The cornmeal porridge is blended with okra and served with steamed flying fish on top. In Jamaica, bacon or pork and dried cod are used. It can also be prepared as a vegetarian side dish. This recipe is a blend of several versions.
See other related recipes in Grits, Polenta and Coo-Coo.
Yield: 24 (8-ounce) portions
Preparation time: 20 minutes (once the salt cod has been soaked and cooked)
Shelf life: 1 week
3 pounds salt cod, soaked, cooked and shredded
3 ounces unsalted butter or oil + butter to grease molds
6 ounces smoked bacon, finely chopped
12 ounces small okra, tips and stems removed, cut into ¼-inch slices
6 cups coconut milk
6+ cups chicken stock or water
6 cups fine cornmeal
2 tablespoons finely chopped marjoram leaves
1 tablespoon minced Scotch bonnet pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted, for garnish
1. Prepare the cod as directed in Note below.
2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in bacon and cook until most of the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add okra and cook until tender, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Pour in coconut milk and stock and bring to a boil. Slowly add cornmeal, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon over medium heat until mixture is smooth and thick, about 6 minutes, adding a little more water if too dry. Stir in cod, marjoram and Scotch bonnet; season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. To serve: Fill 24 (1-cup) buttered molds with Coo-Coo, patting the mixture down so it is smooth. Keep warm or reheat and invert before serving. Alternatively, spoon mixture into a large buttered pan. Coo-Coo may be reheated in the oven or microwave. Before serving, drizzle ½ tablespoon of toasted coconut on each portion as a garnish.
Note: There are different methods for soaking and cooking salt cod:
Traditional: Rinse salt off the fish and cut into pieces. Put in a non-reactive dish and cover with cold water, refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours, changing the water several times a day. Drain and transfer to a skillet, cover with cold water and slowly bring to a simmer; poach until fish flakes. Drain, transfer to a cutting board, discard any skin and bones and break into small flakes. Blot dry.
Quick: Rinse salt off the cod and cut into pieces. In a skillet, cover with cold water and bring to a gentle simmer four times for 5 minutes, each time until most of the salt is removed, the fish is cooked and is easily flaked. Blot dry.
Nutritional Data (per 8-ounce portion): Calories: 380; Cholesterol: 45 mg; Sodium: 420 mg; Fat: 18 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Ingredient Cost Sheet
|3 pounds salt cod, soaked, cooked and shredded salt (see Note)||$16.18-26.97|
|3 ounces unsalted butter or oil + butter to grease molds||$.48-.80|
|6 ounces smoked bacon, finely chopped||$.90-1.50|
|12 ounces small okra, tips and stems removed, cut into 1/4-inch slices||$1.35-2.24|
|6 cups coconut milk||$3.71-6.18|
|6+ cups chicken stock or water||$2.24-3.74|
|6 cups fine cornmeal||$1.34-2.24|
|2 tablespoons finely chopped marjoram leaves||$.16-.26|
|1 tablespoon minced Scotch bonnet pepper||$.30-.50|
|Salt and freshly ground black pepper|
|1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted, for garnish||$.59-98|
Joanna Pruess is a regular contributor to Specialty Food Magazine.
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