On holiday in the beautiful Barbados, I was delighted by the culinary wonders that the island had to offer. From Bajan hot sauce, fresh herb seasoning and macpie! But what stood out the most was the variety and freshness of the fish. The most exciting experience was Oistin's Fish Market, which is an open air market where local fisherman have been coming to sell their daily catch for hundreds of years. Corralled between about 20 stalls are fish mongers loudly bantering, laughing and briskly chopping the heads of such large specimens as yellowfin tuna, swordfish, mahi-mahi (aka 'Dolphin') and barracuda.
The array of fish on display is exciting and dizzying, and I'm told I have to make my choice between 2 fish for dinner that evening. I choose Barracuda, a fish thats quite long with a tender flaky white texture and enough to feed our party of nine for the evening. I also go with a stack of flying fish, a local specialty thats typically served battered, fried and in a bun or with macpie and rice.
Flying fish are an incredible specie that appear to be more evolved with their wide wing span and ability to literally 'fly' above the water. They say a fish may love a bird, but where would they live? Maybe the evolution of the flying fish stems from this very dilemma ?
The flying fish are very affordable, and I received a stack of 10 fillets for a mere $10 Barbados dollars (about $7 Canadian).
Upon seeing these small fillets of pink flesh, I had a very strong urge to submerge them in acidic liquid for a time, and then douse them in olive oil, garlic and parsley, as they do in Italy. Also, I had a large bottle of Bajan Lime Vinegar that I was dying to cure fish in.
Alici Marinate is made by taking fresh anchovies and curing them in a vinegar bath for about 5 hours. You then rinse them off, marinate them with the best strong flavours of garlic, chilli, salt and citrus, and serve them anitpasti style with crusty bread. This was by far my favourite thing to eat when I lived in Italy because the texture of the cured fish is so tender and delicate, while the strong sour flavours of the marinade make you want to soak up every bit with your scarpetta.
Here are the results of this Bajan, Italian and Spanish Ceviche-style inspired cured local fish:
- 10 fillets of flying fish (or fresh anchovies, in which case you will want double the amount)
- Juniors Lime Vinegar or White Wine Vinegar (enough to submerge)
- 2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
- 1.5 cups of chopped parsley
- red onion thinly sliced
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Rinse the flying fish fillets and pat dry with paper roll
- Place in a non-reactive container loosely, then submerge in vinegar
- Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of salt
- Cover and set in the fridge to cure for 5 hours minimum (overnight works well also)
- When cured, the flesh will be white and stiff
- Either rinse under the tap or strain if you don't mind a more sour flavour
- Carefully remove the skin which will peel easily (if using anchovies, the skin can remain)
- Place in a serving dish, cover in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, thinly sliced garlic, onions and parsley.
- Serve with crusty bread, crostini or crackers.