When I think of Barbados I think of glossy brochures of romantic holidays, grilled fish, but ironically not Deptford in London. Street food is really taking the global cookbook and food world by storm, looking at London, and it’s huge rise in street food like Brixton Market and that of the South Bank the flavours and love of this inexpensive food have more to offer than any Michelin fine dining meal I have ever had, it’s the food of the people, cooked by people in front of you sharing culture and life in a market stand. That’s where Mark comes in, a man in a pickkle.
Forgive me for thinking of pickles in terms of little onions and cornichons, this is a Bajan pickle, it’s the term used for herbs and spices mixed with fresh lime that’s used to marinate meat and fish before being cooked. As the marinade sits on the meat, it pickles it. Simples.
Mark bounds into Divertimenti with some tuna under his arm, it looked like he was about to cook for the entirety of Marylebone village. As Mark explained, Flying Fish (yes, a fish that can fly) is the national dish of Barbados, but it’s very hard to get in the UK and being responsible consumers the food miles from Barbados to London seemed a little ridiculous, so we cooked the Barbados national dish with Mahi Mahi (a type of tuna). Mahi Mahi being a beautiful carnivorous fish that actually eats the famous flying fish. It’s got a beautiful meaty texture and is related to the dolphin.
Mark is unsure the AGA will work as well as his out door grill in Deptford. I was confident it would, I let Mark have a go and after he heated the AGA cast iron grill pan for a few minutes as I directed he was getting very excited by just how quickly the pan heated and how beautiful the fish cooked.
I’ve been to the Caribbean all be it Jamaica and not Barbados, it was an international Home Economics meeting, and the Caribbean Home Economics association cooked dinner one night, that was my first experience of the famous ‘rice and peas’. Not peas like we have with fish and chips in the UK, more over black eyed peas and this dish is a Caribbean staple, look at any Jerk chicken shop in Brixton and they all sell it as an accompaniment too. Mark made this effortlessly in the AGA by sautéing all of the ingredients, adding the rice and water, bringing it to the boil (all be it with a little instruction from me) and leaving in the AGA Simmering Oven for 20 minutes. As with all AGA rice dishes the water has all been absorbed, the pan is clean, and the rice has not stuck together.
Mark cooks with soul, the essence of his beloved Barbados shone into the food. Want to try it? Go and visit him in Deptford, the place where Sir Francis Drake brought the potato to our shores on the Golden Hind, where Sir Walter Raleigh laid his cape down for Queen Elizabeth 1st and now like all good pioneers of the UK where Bajaj pickle is served. Street food at its best.
Grilled Mahi Mahi
25g celery, roughly chopped
100g onions, peeled
10g scotch bonnet pepper
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp black pepper
2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tbsp malt vinegar
Mahi-Mahi fillets (2 per person)
2 tbsp butter
1 garlic clove, crushed
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
a few drops Tobasco sauce
To make the marinade, place all of the ingredients except the vinegar into a blender and blend until smooth. Add the vinegar, pour into a jar and seal. Refrigerate for 24 hours before using to let the flavors develop.
Coat the fillets with the marinade, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Allow the fillets to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before cooking.
Melt the butter in an AGA cast iron grill pan on the Boiling Plate and sauté the garlic for 1-2 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the lime juice and Tabasco.
Cook the fish for 2-3 minutes on each side.
Serve with rice and peas
Rice and Peas
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
150g dried black eyed peas, soaked overnight
2 cups of rice and 4 cups of water
In an AGA pan, add oil and fry onion until golden. Add the black eyed peas, stir and sauté for about 5 minutes.
Add the rice and water, bring to the boil on the Boiling Plate, place the lid on top and place into the Simmering Oven for 20 minutes to cook.