A typical Bahamian Saturday or Sunday morning involves recovering from the previous nights’ festivities and one way to do is to have a heaping bowl of souse (rhymes with house). Souse is a very simple Bahamian soup made with meats like chicken, turkey, pig’s feet or sheep’s tongue in a clear broth made of lime juice, onions, carrots and potatoes. Goat peppers or bird peppers are added for the extra kick. Whole all spice and bay leaves add an aromatic flavor. Souse can be served with johnny cake, grits or even toast. Although I’m currently on a year-long vegan journey, I bought frozen sheep’s tongue so that I can learn to make it for my fiance and buying a bowl can range $10-$16 depending which island and restaurant you get it from. I also feel that it’s important for young Bahamians to learn how to make out traditional dishes and make them at least once in your life but I digress. Anyway, finding a recipe for sheep tongue souse on the internet was harder than finding a chicken souse recipe because sheep’s tongue has a few additional steps in the cleaning and preparation process. Since I could not find a legit recipe, I decided that I will write and post my own recipe. Please bear with me because I honestly don’t like writing recipes.
Begin by heating a pot of water with lots of salt until comes to a boil. Add the sheep’s tongue and let it boil or scald for 10-15 minutes. You can use this time to prepare a johnny cake or bread to go with it or peel and dice the potatoes and onion.
Drain off hot water and run the tongues under cold water. You’ll need to be able to handle them with your fingers so allow to cool for a few minutes. With a filet knife, remove the rough, white external layer on the tongue that has the taste buds. Try to cut as close to the skin as possible to avoid throwing away meat. Dice into small bite size pieces and set aside in a bowl.
Return the pot to the stove with fresh water and allow to come to a boil. Add potatoes, onions, all spice, bay leaves and optional ingredients. Add the sheep’s tongue and continue cooking until potatoes are done. Season with salt and lemon juice to taste.
Serve while hot.
Note: For my first time, it came out pretty good. My fiance said it was decent. The meat needed a little more salt during the scalding process so that it could begin absorbing some flavor and not just be surrounded by the flavor of the souse water. The next time I make it, I would even throw a few of the all spice balls and a bay leaf in the pot during step 1. Of course, soups and stews always taste better the next day after the flavors have had time to meld together. If you’ve made sheep tongue souse before, do share your experience!
In The Bahamas toting food items from parties has become so extreme that Bahamian artist K.B. just had to sing about it! Toting itself is not a bad thing. In fact, since I’ve been here in Emporia, it’s been encourage quite a bit. But anything in excess becomes a problem and bringing your own Tupperware and foil to a shindig is a bit much!
Sitting down last night eating my Mexican-Bahamian meal (beans n rice with crawfish), I thought about chili. I know, very random. I used to eat chili from Wendy’s all the time. For a college budget, it filled me well. But then I thought, “Bahamians don’t really have our own version of chili.” We don’t. But we do have stew, which would be the closest thing I could think of to chili.
No beans, no ground beef involved. Mainly the browning or “burning” of flour, adding a bit of liquid to make it a soup-like consistency and fish that has been previously fried or conch (and in my kitchen, crawfish). Seasoning is basic: salt, goat pepper and lime.
A plate of Stew Fish
Now this isn’t my photo, but it gives you a good idea of how the final product should look. The depth of color depends on how long the flour is browned in the initial stage. Carrots, potatoes and other veggies are optional. The simpler, the better.
I remember sleeping over at a cousin’s house and they would prepare stew early on Saturday mornings and baked a nice Johnny cake or sweet potato bread to serve alongside. I’ve prepared my own stews since moving away to college, but nothing is quite like that old school flavor. I can’t wait to pass this recipe on to my own kids.
Here’s a video on one way to make your very own Bahamian Stew Fish. *Note: you can try this with other types of fish like catifsh or cod.
For my birthday (back in April, this is wayy late), I did something I have never dared do before: made guava duff. And, I have to say that it came out pretty decent. But let me explain why this is so major.
Ever since I was a kid, I have had a “weakness for sweetness” and guava duff is one of the Bahamas’ most delectable desserts. Guava flesh is cooked down and folded into a dough which is then baked or boiled wrapped tightly in foil. It is then drizzled in a sweet guava sauce that may or may not have rum or brandy in it.
This dessert takes quite a bit of time to prepare so doing it can seem a bit daunting but the end result is worth it. Over the years, Bahamians have modified the method of preparing it so that it’s quicker to do, but it’s just not the same. Some bakeries use whipped cream in their sauces, which although makes it light and airy, takes away from the true flavors. They also would change how they created the dough which became more bread-like which means that it gets soggy when the sauce sits on it for too long. Finding duff still done the ol’ school way is very hard in Nassau.
So finally, I can tick it off of my bucket list of Bahamian foods I need to prepare at least once.
My grandmother prepared this for me and my cousins when we were about 8 or 9 and then I remember an older cousin helping out when I was 12 or 13, so it has been a long time since I’ve seen anyone prepare this. I took to the internet and found two recipes that seemed decent enough to work with. Here’s the one from Food.com, and the other from a Bahamian blogger.
I actually used the Bahamian blogger’s recipe but I decided to experiment and try both recipes for the sauce to compare the difference. A good sauce is very important to me. There aren’t any pictures because for the majority of the process my hands were covered in guava juices or flour and butter.
The good thing is, it can be stored in a fridge or freezer (if you want it to keep longer) so I’ll be sharing it with friends this coming weekend as I celebrate my 24th birthday. It brings some comfort to know that I can still have a piece of home away from home.
I’ve read around the internet that in some places sky juice is another way of saying plain water. In The Bahamas, sky juice is far from plain water, unless that water happens to be from a coconut. It’s coconut waters (fresh out of the nut) mixed with gin. Some versions also include sweet milk and the coconut jelly. Continue reading →