Someone recently said, “You en Guyanese if you not eating black-eyed cook up on old year’s night!”
This is very true.
As a child growing up in Guyana, New Year’s eve was as much about ringing in the new year, as it was about my mom’s black-eye peas cook-up rice, fried fish and plantains. At the stroke of mid night Guyanese everywhere are loading up a plate of deliciousness and ringing in the new year.
Black-eyed peas is said to bring wealth and good fortune so it makes sense to have some right at midnight to help kick start the new year.
Cook-up rice is a one pot dish where the main ingredients, rice and peas, are cooked in a coconut broth. Meat, poultry, smoked fish and sometimes dried shrimp are often added. Carrots and other root vegetables can be added as well. Most Guyanese make cook-up rice on Saturdays as it is an easy, uncomplicated, comfort food and can go a far way if unexpected visitors show up at your door.
My version is a classic black-eyed peas cook-up rice, served with pan fried trout.
Enjoy and Happy Cooking.
Black-eyed Peas Cook-up Rice (6 servings)
1lb stew beef
1 cup dried black-eyed peas (soaked over night and drained)
2 cups parboiled long grain rice
1/4 cup oil (preferably canola or olive oil)
1 can coconut milk (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 cups of water
1 onion (chopped)
2 tomatoes (diced)
5 cloves garlic (finely chopped or grated)
2 tbsp Thyme (preferably Guyanese Thyme)
1 tbsp Casreep (or Soy Sauce)
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
A handful of freshly chopped basil
In a medium bowl, add beef, onion, garlic, tomatoes, casreep, brown sugar, salt and black pepper. Mix together and let marinade for 20 to 30 mins. Add oil to a pressure cooker on medium heat, and sauté beef for 10 mins. Add black-eyed peas and 3 cups of water and pressure cook for 20 mins or until peas and beef are fully cooked. Once the peas and beef are cooked, transfer (along with any remaining liquids) to a stock pot (any pot large enough to cook 3 cups of rice). Add rice, coconut milk and 2 cups of water to peas and beef. Cover pot and cook on high until liquids come to a boil. Once boiling cook for 10 mins, then reduce to low heat and let simmer until rice is completely cooked and all of the liquids have evaporated. Stir rice every 5 to 10 mins while it simmers to ensure it cooks evenly. When the rice is almost finished add a handful of freshly chopped basil and give it a quick stir. Remove from heat when rice is completely cooked.
Pan fried Trout (6 servings)
1lb. trout filets (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp. thyme (preferably Guyanese thyme)
1 tbsp. minced onions
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. lemon and pepper seasoning (can be substituted for fresh lemon juice and ground black pepper)
1 tsp. paprika
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 cup flour
1 cup of canola oil
Wash and dry fish. Cut fish into 2 inch strips. Season with thyme, onions, garlic, salt, lemon and pepper seasoning and paprika. Let marinade for 30 mins. In a small plate, mix bread crumbs and flour together. Coat fish with bread crumbs and flour mixture. Add oil to a large skillet on medium to medium high heat. Once oil is hot (you can test this by sprinkling a bit of flour in the oil, if it sizzles, the oil is hot), add pieces of floured/breaded fish skin side down. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the skin is brown. Turn fish over to the flesh side and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until brown. Remove from oil and let rest for a few minutes before serving.
1. I usually season my meat and fish the night before cooking, but you can also season the meat and the fish 20 to 30 minutes before you begin cooking.
2. After frying, I let the fish rest on pieces of paper towel to remove any excess oil.
3. When making cook-up rice I sometimes substitute fresh tomatoes for fire roasted tomatoes (from the can).
4. I usually use fresh lemons when cooking fish, but lemon and pepper season proved to be a good substitute when I went to the refrigerator and discovered I was out of lemons. (bows head in shame)
5. Cook-up rice is great by itself but even better with fried fish or chicken. (Fried food makes everything better!)