Tastes Like Home

Roast Breadfruit

Have it once and you’ll want more

Hi Everyone,
The flesh is soft and creamy yellow with notes of natural sweetness and that of the butter melted into it. Your taste-buds are wild with pleasure with the smokiness of the fire roasting as you bring each piece to your mouth. The saltiness of the salt beef and pig-tail makes you shudder with delight. Each mouthful of roast breadfruit with butter and salt meat makes you involuntarily bang your fists, stamp your feet, close your eyes and groan with pleasure. Since I was in the midst of company, I had to restrain myself but such is the delight of this dish.

Stuffed breadfruit (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)
Stuffed breadfruit (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

Roast breadfruit would fall into the category of what we call ‘bush cook.’ Bush cook refers to food cooked outdoors in the most primal of ways – with lots of open-flame fire, one pot if any at all, the barest essentials of seasoning, salt, and it’s often a one-pot meal. Jamaicans refer to this kind of cooking as ‘run-a-boat.’ The food for such meals is freshly caught, captured, harvested, shot down or picked. Fish, poultry, yams, eddoes, sweet potatoes, etc, pigeons, plantains, breadfruit and so on would all be main ingredients in a bush cook. Bush-cooking is mostly done by men and it’s often with a gathering of friends or co-workers. It is a fun way to relax, have a meal and ole talk.

There’s no special time to have a bush-cook; part of the excitement is the spontaneity of it all, of making a delicious meal out of very little, some would say, one of the tests of a true cook. Fellas would gather after a hard day’s work in the field or on a construction site, others would plan to meet later in the evening down by the river to lime (hang out) and cook a meal; long ago the younger ones at school would indulge in this sort of activity during the August holidays when there’s more time to explore and no school work to be done. Bush-cooking it seems has always been a feature of rural life, and each Caribbean country can boast (though they don’t) of their bush-cooking.

Here in Barbados, roast breadfruit and roast fish is what people often refer to when they talk about good ‘ole time’ outdoor cooking. In a previous column, I mentioned my introduction to roast breadfruit by Mr Cook, the security guard at the media company I worked for at the time. Well, since that time, I have been wanting someone to show me how it’s done. I asked many people but most of them said they had no idea how it’s done until last week, when I overheard the men working on the building next door extolling the delights of roast breadfruit. So, I enthusiastically approached one of them, Hamilton, and asked if he would be interested in roasting some breadfruit if I got all the ingredients together. Hamilton’s eyes lit up and he smiled. We set a date for Friday, August 1. I was instructed to get the salted Robert’s butter, and to be sure and purchase yellow-meat breadfruit. With some breadfruit, the flesh is white and it looks like Idaho potato when cooked. There are other breadfruit where the flesh is cream-coloured and turns yellow when cooked, much like Yukon-gold potatoes. I also bought salt beef and salted pig-tail which I de-salted and cooked.

Roast breadfruit with butter and salt-meat (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)
Roast breadfruit with butter and salt-meat (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

Friday morning arrived bright and sunny, but then things soon changed; it became overcast and rainy. Nevertheless the fire was lit in the yard, wood and paper providing the fuel. Hamilton made quick work of cutting off the tops of the breadfruit (there were 3) and removing the core from which the stem sprung and thereby creating a cavity which would be filled with butter and salt-meat.

First the butter is liberally spread around the walls of the cavity, followed by the salt meat or any filling you like; Hamilton put canned tuna in one of the breadfruit. If you don’t have anything except the butter, then that is fine too. After all, it is the roasted breadfruit itself that’s important. The cut tops are then replaced like lids and are held in place by toothpicks. The filled and capped breadfruit is then put amidst the fire and more wood is added around and on top of it creating a very hot fire-licking oven. Depending on the size of the breadfruit, it can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to cook.
Once cooked, Hamilton removed the breadfruit from the fire and gently struck it against the ground. Immediately it cracked open, the butter having melted adding a richer colour and flavour to the breadfruit, the salt-meat even more tender. Eating at this point in time need not be a fancy affair. Generally, you break off a piece of the cracked open breadfruit and with a spoon (make-shift or otherwise) you scoop out the flesh and filling and eat. It’s so good!

I think you have some idea of how much I enjoyed this dish. However, since I would not be able to make a bush-fire without the help of Hamilton, I want to experiment by roasting the breadfruit, filling and all, in my oven. Sure, I know that I would not get that smoky flavour, but I bet that it’s going to be good. I tell you, once you have roast breadfruit, you’ll want it again and again.

Latest in The Scene

20160625Royden Sealey2

Royden Sealey expresses himself through his art

Royden Sealey has always had a passion for art and as a child had expressed this in ways which landed him in hot water.

Lystra Adams and friends at the Royal Ascot

The value of craftsmanship

Those who know me well are aware of my deep appreciation for millinery and the craftsmanship that surrounds it. I think this interest stems from being completely fascinated by the women I admire and find interesting.


Fit closes Spectrum 12

Painting the Spectrum 12, SASOD’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) film festival comes to a close next week with Spectrum Night, screening of Fit and the customary painting the spectrum.


Rukatuks for Rodney at NCC tonight

Rukatuks, billed as a benefit show for actor, poet, comedian and folklorist, Henry Rodney, will blasty off this evening from 8 at the National Cultural Centre.

T’shanna Cort

T’shanna Cort has hope in her music

“I Have Hope” is the name of the song with which T’shanna Cort won this year’s Junior Calypso Competition and today, nearly six months later, fans from all across Guyana greet her with those words and praise her performance.

Fashion forecasters (that’s a career too) predicted that 2016’s fashion trends will involve pantone colours, androgyny, romanticism, 70's fashionborn x chictopia

Looking at the bigger picture

Following up on last’s week column, fashion careers, this week I wanted to share with you my general response to the commonly asked question, can the Caribbean actually have a thriving fashion industry?


Caribbean short films, Canadian documentary for Spectrum next week

Painting the Spectrum 12, SASOD’s annual film festival continues next Tuesday, June 21, at the Dutch Bottle Café, located at 10 North Road, Bourda in Georgetown, with two short films, Transgender: Back to Jamaica and Antiman.

Scene from Me Before You

The romantic comedy you’ve been waiting for: Me Before You

If you have already grown tired of 2016’s endless parade of comic book adaptations and superheroes, Me Before You is the romantic comedy that promises a breath of fresh air.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: