Cooking for me is a place where anything is possible, especially with trial and error! But most importantly, it’s a place where my fondest memories of growing up on the island of St. Croix were created.
Weekends inside my island home without trying became about food. Daddy making home-made bread, Mom either deciding to make something or taking us down to our great Auntie Edna for blood pudding, rice pudding and so many other delicious delights.
One of the things I learned early on to do in the kitchen is the “fattening” up of dishes such as red herring and salt fish. Just the addition of green peppers, onion, garlic, tomato and tomato sauce or paste can make these fishes flavors dance on your tongue.
So, when I’m missing home, I turn to my kitchen to give me the reminder I need. Red herring and brown rice is not only tasty but nutritious. I did not know that growing up only the great smell that told me red herring was cooking.
Here’s the thing. Sometimes the herring doesn’t make it into a pot to cook because I love eating it raw. My mom would have to hide the herring from me if she hoped to have weekend breakfast on the table. That’s the other thing about red herring. My family and I would eat it, “fatten” of course with cucumber and bread for breakfast sometimes adding boiled eggs or even spinach.
Now the trick to a great red herring dish is hot water. Yes, you read it right. Hot water. When you are ready to prepare your red herring. You need to put it in a bowl and add hot water over the fish. Wait awhile. Then take the fish and start removing the skin and the bones; the hot water will make those items easy to remove.
Put the red herring in another bowl with some more hot water to remove additional salt. Remove the red herring from the bowl into a deep-frying pan that already has diced pieces of onion, green pepper, garlic, and tomato sauteing with a bit of oil. Then add tomato sauce and hot water and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Here’s where you can add some salt and pepper to taste.
Place the “fatten” red herring over some rice and you have a simple but tasty dish.