Over the years, I have been fed or I’ve cooked many, many variations of this – with sardines, with pilchards, with the little smoked African dried prawns and black eye beans or any of the vegan versions in the last post – and the recipe is always basically the same as in the last post…and they all definitely improve a can of fish.
However, there was an West African bloke who lived in the hostel that I stayed in for 3 months while I was waiting to get re-housed, who told Mr Benz about one particular brand of canned smoked herring, and we both agree it is ‘de bes’ ever…it even comes in enough tomato and vegetable sauce of its own to warrant leaving out making a separate tomato sauce.
Ingredients serves 2 takes 10-15 minutes
1 can petri brand smoked herring in tomato sauce – not the one in tomato cream £1.20 in Lidl – I have no idea if any other companies make the same thing –
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3-4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
Scotch Bonnet/Habanero to your level of chilli heat
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Gently fry the onion in the oil until soft and translucent, add garlic and chilli, fry for 1 minute, then add tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften. Add fish and sauce, and swill the can out with water, adding the water to the pan. Gently break up the fish, bring up to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Serve with carbohydrate of choice – potatoes or soft polenta or semolina are my favorites.
As I promised at the beginning, I am putting up a vegan version first of anything I cook that isn’t – last thursday week, my ex – who I shall call Mr. Benz, because he drives me round several bends on a regular basis 😉 came to see me in a proper moany moany mood, so I gave him a version of a ‘pilchards’ dinner, because I know he likes it – when he’s in a grump, he is capable of seeing vegetables as a disrespectful insult and on a bad day, he has a huge capacity for being unreasonable (one of the many reasons we are no longer together and probably never should have been in the first place)…on a good day he is sweetness and light and a really good laugh – that’s the opposite sex for you – whichever gender you are. To be fair to the man, he’s just started work in a new job after being unemployed for ages and he hasn’t been paid yet, and he’d run out of money and tobacco and electricity – enough to make anyone irritable.
Anyway, this is basically a rich tomato and onion sauce with chilli and something else – traditionally, a can of fish. Jamaicans tend to serve it with potatoes, and West Africans quite often have it with semolina – polenta, rice or even pasta would also be fine.
To make – take one portion of really red tomato sauce made with onion
Add some scotch bonnet chilli (habanero) – with caution – they are extremely hot, but they also have a unique fruity flavour,
and any or all of the following: pre cooked black eye beans (sometimes called black eye peas), aubergine cut into 1 cm cubes and fried separately – aubergine absorbs loads of oil when you fry it – but by the time the cubes are golden brown on the outside, the oil starts to come back out again – you can gently squeeze the cubes with the back of a spoon to aid this process, before you add to the sauce, and/or char grilled red pepper/capsicum.
To char grill a pepper, put the whole thing directly onto a gas burner and turn as the skin blackens and blisters until it is black all over – put under cold running water and peel away charred skin. Remove stalk, seeds and the pale coloured ribs on the inside, then chop or tear into strips.
The recipe I’m posting next uses smoked herring – for a vegan smoky version you could add smoked garlic powder or some chipotle chilli that you’ve pre soaked in hot water for 10 minutes – I got given small packs of both of these for Christmas, made by a company called ‘Seasoned Pioneers’ – I think Sainsbury’s sells the range – if you haven’t got any, ‘cos they are dead good but a bit pricy, you could add some smoky bbq sauce….there also used to be something called ‘liquid smoke’ in a bottle, but I haven’t seen it for a few years.