Salt fish & Bake
As I started editing this post, I tried to think of a great anecdote for salt fish and bake, or to muster up some child hood memory where it was first introduced to me and then it became quite obvious that I eat this dish so regularly that it is part of my being. Does that make sense? Let me explain. I make bakes at least once a week. It is so easy to make that sometimes I have it for dinner. I don’t always make salt fish, but when I do the combination of the two is, for me, the definition of simple comfort food.
Now for the story. When I was a little girl, the kind of salt fish we had access to, was filled with bones. Bones that had to be picked out after boiling and before sauteing. It was quite a task and often one given to the children. I loved eating salt fish and bake but HATED having to pick bones from the fish before my mom could cook it.
In these lovely United States, salted cod filets are boneless and such a welcome joy to cook. Progress is not having to pick bones from salt fish! Hilarious.
Salt fish and bake, or bake and salt fish, however you say it, is great for Sunday brunch, or any meal on any day if you ask me or any other Guyanese.
Oh I should tell you although it is called “bake” it is actually deep dried. Not quite sure how we got to calling it “bake,” but call it what you want, it’s pure deliciousness.
And now the recipe. We’ll start with the bakes first because the dough takes a bit of time to get it just right.
For my version of bakes you will need, 3 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 2 tsp baking powder and 1 1/2 cups of water.
First, add all the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl.
Mix the dry ingredients together.
Then, make a hole or well (if you’re sophisticated) in the center of the dry ingredients and add water.
Mix together to form a soft dough. Cover dough with a damp paper towel and let sit for at least 30 mins.
After the dough has sat for about 30 mins, on a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a log.
Then cut into nine pieces. Here I’ve made mine into 6 pieces because I will cut my bakes into triangles (see below). Knead each piece into a small round ball and let sit for another 15 to 30 minutes.
If you separated your dough into 9 pieces, roll each piece into a round disk. Because I separated my dough into six pieces, I rolled the dough into a large disk then cut it into 4 (like the photo on the left).
Now for the cooking…
Add 4 cups of oil (canola or vegetable oil) to a pot deep enough for frying. When oil is hot but not smoking (about 300 F) fry bake one at a time.
Cook on each side until brown (about 2 mins. each), then flip to the other side. (See video below). After frying place in a dish lined with paper towels and allow some of the excess oil to be absorbed by the paper towels before serving.
The finished product!
Now for the salt fish recipe. Here I am using salted cod.
1. Add salt fish and 4 cups water to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Boil for 15 minutes. 3. Then drain water and add 4 more cups of water and repeat step 2.
4. Drain, let cool then flake with a fork (or your fingers), until salt fish is nice and flaky.
As seasoning for the fish you will need, 2 tomatoes (diced). 5 heads of green onions (shallot for those in Guyana), 1 cup mixed bell peppers (not photoed), 1 tbsp. dried thyme and a pinch of cayenne pepper (not photoed)
1. Add 3 tbsp. oil to a saute pan on medium heat (I’m using light tasting olive oil).
2. When oil is hot add, tomatoes, 2/3 of green onions (reserve some for garnish), bell peppers and garlic.
3. Cook until tomatoes are soft, then add flaky salt fish, cayenne pepper and dried thyme.
4. Mix together and let cook for another 10 to 15 mins turning often to ensure even cooking.
5. Remove from heat and add reserved green onions.
Put the two together (however you like) and enjoy!
Salt fish and bake
Salt Fish and Bake (5 to 6 servings)
Bakes (makes 8 to 9)
3 cups flour (and 1/4 cup for kneading)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups water
4 cups oil for frying (Canola or vegetable oil)
1 lb salted cod or other salted fish
About 8 cups water for boiling
2 large tomatoes (diced)
1/2 cup mixed bell peppers (I’m using frozen peppers in this recipe)
5 heads of green onions (finely chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 tbsp. dried thyme
pinch of cayenne pepper
Bakes: In a large mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder and mix together thoroughly. You can use a whisk for this step or your hands. Make a well (hole) in the center of the mixed dry ingredients, add water and knead to form a soft dough. Knead together until dough is smooth. Cover with a damp paper towel and let sit for at least 30 minutes. After the dough has sat for 30 minutes, roll into a log on a floured surface and cut into 9 pieces. Knead each piece into a smooth ball. Cover with a damp paper towel and let sit for another 15 to 30 minutes.
When the dough is ready for frying, in a pot large enough for deep frying heat up 4 cups of oil. The oil should be about 300 F. If you bring it to 350 F(the regular temperature for deep frying, your bakes will burn and the inside will be raw). Roll each round dough balls into flat disks and submerge into the oil. The dough will initially sink to the bottom of the pot, then it will rise to the surface and begin to swell. After about 2 minutes or when the oil side of the bake is brown, flip the bake over to brown the top side (see video above). Once both sides are brown, remove from oil and place in a dish lined with paper towels.
Salt fish: Add salt fish and 4 cups of water to a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes. You may need to reduce the heat as the salt fish sometimes boils over and causes quite a mess! After fish has boiled for 15 minutes, drain water, then add an additional 4 cups of water, bring to a boil and boil for another 15 minutes. Once the fish has boiled for another 15 minutes, remove from water and let cool. When fish cools, flake with a fork or your hands until all the flesh is completely flaky.
Seasoning the salt fish: Add 3 tbsp. oil to a large saute pan on medium heat. When oil is hot, add tomatoes, 2/3 green onions, bell peppers and garlic. Cook until tomatoes are soft, then add flaky fish, thyme and cayenne pepper. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking. Once the fish has cooked for 15 minutes, remove from the heat and add the remaining green onions.
Tips and Ramblings
1. You can make bakes as often as you like. It goes well with eggs, fried fish, cheese, peanut butter. Pretty much anything you like.
2. I don’t add any additional salt to the fish because even after boiling it is still quite salty.
3. Lots of people add butter or margarine to the dough when making bakes, mine are tender without it so I don’t add any additional fat.
3. Some people will say what I am making is called floats and bakes are a lot more dense. To this I say, I grew up calling this bake, so bake it is.
4. If you roll the dough out too thick before frying the bake will be raw on the inside.
5. If the oil is too hot and the bake fries too quickly, it will be raw on the inside.
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