Something Smells Fishy...
This is the final recipe for seafood month and my first attempt at real Jamaican rundown. I say Authentic-ish because I used canned coconut milk at the suggestion of my mother who said, had I blended fresh coconut milk the mixture would take forever to reduce to the consistency that it should. So I took her advice and here you have it.
So yes, I finally learnt how to make a real Jamaican rundown. All these years I had been doing it backwards. My mother makes rundown maybe once a year, and for some reason I’m never with her when she cooks it. So I always assumed the saltfish or mackerel or whatever, was cooked up first and then the coconut milk goes in next WRONG,(that’s what I did in my shrimp sundown recipe..oops) You’re actually supposed to cook the milk into a thick sauce first then add the goodies…who knew? Had I been raised in the country with my grandmother (who makes her own coconut oil and allspice berries from scratch) I probably would have figured it out earlier.
Last year while we visited her I saw a pot of a thick yellowish white custardy substance with a little oil on top. Upon further inquiry I was told it was the latter stages of rundown with turns into a thick custard. My first question was where is the meat? My grandmother said she does not cook it with meat. She cooked down the fresh coconut milk into a thick custard seasoned it with onions, salt, black pepper, (I think) and that’s it. The excess oil that is develops on top she re-uses to cook other food (I guess it’s the dish that just keeps on giving). She had it with dumplings and boiled bananas. It was the weirdest thing ever. It was however, extremely flavorful and tasted pretty good, but the texture just didn’t work for me. It felt like I was eating some kind of butter.
In any case with that memory locked away in the filing cabinet of my brain. I asked my mother how to make rundown. She explained to me how to do it, then left me in the kitchen to fend for myself. The only thing I did wrong was boil the milk down too thick, so my rundown wasn’t as runny as it should have been. However my mom said it taste just as how rundown should, her exact words were “the flavor is perfect, just like I remember”. So all you need to do is make sure to keep your rundown runny.
Ingredients (Printable recipe)
2 whole pickled mackerel
2 cans rich coconut milk
1 small onion
2 large tear drop tomatoes
3 sprigs thyme
1 scallion stalk
2 to 3 slices of scotch bonnet pepper
1 teaspoon coconut oil
Salt (to taste)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon ground all spice
- Boil the pickled mackerel in water several times until you have removed the excess salt and the Mackerel’s salt level is to your liking.
- Flake the mackerel and remove all the bones, fins and other undesirables
- Place two cans of coconut milk in a pan to boil and reduce to a thick sauce (the aim is to remove all the water from the coconut milk)
- Cut up the onions, tomatoes, thyme, scallion, scotch bonnet pepper
- In a sauté pan add some of the reduced custard, with coconut oil, sauté the onions, tomatoes, scallion, thyme and scotch bonnet pepper, season with two pinches of salt saute until onions become fragrant and begin to soften.
- Add the flaked mackerel to the sauté veggies and ‘cook up’ to warm all the way through.
- Add the sauté mackerel and ground all allspice to the reduced coconut sauce, stir until its completely mixed. Season to taste with salt and black pepper (the sauce is naturally sweet)
- Serve with boiled ground provisions, tough crackers or tostones