Caribbean Food Made Easy
by Levi Roots
This is a classic and my mum and grandma both made it. You don't have to stick to these ingredients, so use different kinds of fish or try a vegetarian version cooked with aubergine, yam, sweet potato and squash instead of these root vegetables. The traditional use of the word 'rundown' relates to the oil that comes from coconut milk when you boil it up. You scoop it off the top and use it for cooking. Here we're using the very thick coconut cream as it has the same richness.
• 400ml can coconut milk
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 onion, roughly chopped
• 6 smallish waxy potatoes, peeled and sliced
• 2 carrots, cut on the diagonal into thick slices
• 2 parsnips, each sliced diagonally into 6
• 4 plum tomatoes, deseeded, each cut into 8
• 4 sprigs of thyme
• 2 tsp malt vinegar
• 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
• salt and pepper
• 2 whole mackerel, gutted
• lime wedges, to serve
1. Open the can of coconut milk, lift all the near-solid curds off the top and put them into a large saucepan (Use the more watery bit for something else, such as a soup made from squash or sweet potato.) Cook the creamy bit at a gentle simmer until it has the consistency of double cream, stirring every so often to make sure it's not catching on the bottom. This is the 'rundown'.
2. Put everything except the mackerel and lime in a large heavy-based saucepan. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook until all the vegetables are just tender, about 25 minutes. If you find that the mixture gets too dry, add a little water.
3. Meanwhile, cut the heads off the mackerel, then cut each fish in half. Pour the lime juice all over them. Cover and leave in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
4. When the vegetables are just tender, remove the mackerel from the fridge and lay the mackerel pieces on top of the vegetables. Cover again. Simmer for a further 10-12 minutes, or until the mackerel is cooked through.
5. Before serving, you may wish to remove the skin and bones from the fish, then return them to the pan in chunks - or you can leave it as it is. Serve, preferably in the dish in which it has been cooked, providing lime wedges for everyone (it needs a good squeeze of lime on top).