This week we continue with another weekend favourite among Barbadians.
Last week we talked about Bajan pudding, but a serving of pudding and souse would not be complete without pickled breadfruit. Some people so like pickled breadfruit that they’ll order just pudding and pickled breadfruit or souse and pickled breadfruit.
To make pickled breadfruit, boiled firm breadfruit is cut into chunks or sliced lengthways – stretched out – and then doused in a pickle made of fresh lime juice, onions, scallions, parsley, hot pepper and salt. By firm I mean that the breadfruit used would one that is not full/ripe. It would be one that would take about a 3 – 4 days to fully ripen. This younger breadfruit is best suited to this preparation because it has to keep its shape when cooked and not become softened from pickling.
The ‘pickling’ of the breadfruit is done one of two ways and is entirely a matter of personal preference. Both start out boiled, then cut or sliced. Some people pour the pickling ingredients over the breadfruit, toss to coat and mix and let stand at room temperature until ready to serve. Others spoon some of the pickling ingredients and juices over the breadfruit just before serving. I prefer the former method; this way, the flavour of the herbs and the briny juices penetrate the breadfruit making each piece absolutely delicious.
We all know that the key to a good pickle is the pickling juice. Excellent souse requires great skill in balancing the acid with salt, and, flavouring it with the right amount of aromatics that release their essence into the liquid. Well, skill is also required when making the pickle for the breadfruit. While many people opt to add water to the pickle, my friend Jackie advised me not to. She mixes up all the ingredients and immediately adds it to the cooked and cooled breadfruit and let the juices develop naturally from the cucumbers. I took her advice and re-interpreted it. I mixed the ingredients for the pickle, together and let it sit at room temperature, on its
own for half an hour, that way, the cucumbers released more of their juices, the onions, herbs, and pepper infused the juice of the cucumbers and everything melded with the fresh lime juice and salt. After this step, I poured everything over the breadfruit, tossed to coat and mix and let sit at room temperature for at least half an hour before serving. The breadfruit sucks up all the goodness and each bite has you going back for more.
While pickled breadfruit is traditionally served with weekend pudding and souse, these days, people are having it as a salad on the side when serving meals at home. Even one of the locally-owned and operated fast food places serves pickled breadfruit and pickled green bananas during their midday service. This is how much pickled breadfruit is welcomed and enjoyed here in Bim.
Here’s how to make it.
- 1 firm breadfruit, peeled, cored and cut into large wedges
- 3 large cucumbers
- ¼ cup finely minced red onions (white/or yellow onions will do)
- 2 whole scallions/green onions, sliced thinly
- 1 tablespoon finely minced parsley
- Finely minced hot pepper to taste
- Fresh lime juice to taste
- Salt to taste
- Add the breadfruit to a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook until a knife inserts easily. The breadfruit should be fully cooked but not at all mushy. Drain well and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, make the pickle.
- Peel and grate 2 of the cucumbers using the large side of a box grater, into a large bowl. Peel the 3rd cucumber, cut in half, remove the seeds, and cut into long strips and then into very small pieces.
- Add the onions, scallions, parsley and pepper to the cucumbers and toss to mix. Add fresh lime juice and salt to taste. Toss to mix, taste the juice and adjust accordingly – with lime juice and salt until it tastes the way you want it to. Cover and let rest at room temperature for at least ½ hour.
- Cut the breadfruit into large chunks, add to the bowl with the pickle, toss to coat and mix, let stand at room temperature for at least ½ hour before serving.
- The pickled breadfruit can stay at room temperature for several hours. Store any extra in a container in the refrigerator. When ready to eat, bring it up to room temperature first, but you can eat it directly out of the refrigerator, if that’s your thing.
Next week: Fried Pork Chops