Can Cook, Must Cook

The food adventures of Franka P, a Trinidadian journalist living in London, UK. I'll write about my forays into all types of food and cooking, particularly Caribbean food. I'll also review books and recipes by the leading food writers and talk about the issues making headlines in the gastronomic world.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Oil down - the recipes

Of course everyone has their own way of making oil down, it's usually passed on from mummy, granny or tantie.
My mother doesn't make oil down often, but when she does it's quite amazing. I don't remember any measurements of course, but I've consulted other books and folks for some guidelines.
Anita Maharaj, a Trini who read the blog suggested that I add Golden Ray to give it that unique flavour, better known to Trinis as that 'real Creole flavour'. Heather said I should use sweet potato (the white one) to bring out the sweetness in the breadfruit.

For those of you who don't know the joy of oil down, I'll give you two recipes.
The first recipe is from the late great Sylvia Hunt, best described as Trinidad and Tobago's Delia Smith. Sylvia was our first proper TV cook she brought a lot of traditional recipes to a mass audience in a way that was never done before.
The second recipe is from the Naparima Girls Cookbook, a cookery bible for many Trinis as it has recipes for most of the delicacies enjoyed by the average Trini.
Try these recipes and let me know the outcome.

Oil Down according to Sylvia Hunt
1 large breadfruit
2 lbs mixed salted meat
Lime juice
2 medium sized onions
6 red and green sweet chilli peppers, cut into wedges
1 clove garlic
1 bunch chive chopped
3 cups thick coconut milk
1 fllavouring pepper
2 tsp sugar
1 green hot pepper
Cooking oil

1. Wash and peel breadfruit. Cut into 8 sections. Remove centre lengthways of each section and cut into half crosswise.
2. Wash and scrape meat, cut into pieces and rinse in lime juice and water.
3. Remove skins of onions, rinse and cut into small pieces. Remove seeds of chilli peppers and cut into wedges. Chop chives into small pieces.
4. Put salted meat into cold water, bring to the boil and drain. Repeat 3 times to remove preserving saly. Put to cook until just tender and drain.
5. Saute onions and garlic in hot oil until onions are pale yellow.
6. Add chive, thyme, flavouring pepper, salted meat and salt to taste. Pour over 2 cups of coconut milk.
7. Add wedges of breadfruit, sugar, green hot pepper and cook until breadfruit absorbs liquid.
8. Add remaining coconut milk. Remove hot pepper. Stir to blend well and cook at a reduced heat. There should be no remaining liquid.
9. Serve hot.
Sylvia Hunt's Cooking, 1985

Oil Down, the Naps Girls way
8 ozs cooked saltfish, flaked
2 chives
2 pints coconut milk
1 large or 2 small breadfruit cut into 4 – 6 sections
1 whole hot pepper
2 sprigs thyme
1 stick celery, chopped.

1 Soak meat overnight in cold water. Drain.
2. Remove the breadfruit and peel and in a saucepan, put alternate layers of breadfruit, meat and saltfish.
3. Tie chilli, thyme, chive and add to pan with celery and coconut milk.
4. Cover tightly and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 45-50 mins until everything is cooked and tender. When cooked the liquid should be absorbed and the stew oily.
5. Remove herbs before serving and add salt to taste.
From the Naparima Girls High School - Trinidad and Tobago Recipes, 1988

Food & Drink Blog Top Sites


  • At 16:51, Blogger Petit said…

    Last time I went home Sylvia Hunt was out of print - apparently due to family squabbling over who owned the copyright!

  • At 15:23, Anonymous lyds said…

    mouth watering! Look at the cookbook that my mum has getting a name check...never knew Naparima was famous

  • At 14:48, Anonymous Ros said…

    I love breadfruit, so it'll be good to try something different with them. I've only made Sri Lankan curries with it in the past. Thanks for posting the recipes!

  • At 07:03, Blogger Peter Chen said…

    I am trying to reach people who have joined BlogExplosion via my blogs, and commenting on their blogs is the only way I know how.

    A number of readers of my post How BlogExplosion can "explode" traffic to your blog
    have joined BlogExplosion. If you are one of them and you have an AdSense account, please read an update to the post. Important.

    Blogger Tips and Tricks

  • At 21:01, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sylvia Hunt has it right, no saltfish in oil-down. I agree Golden Ray margarine gives the dish that creole taste.


Post a Comment

<< Home