What's Cooking In Jamaica
If it’s one thing I enjoyed eating when I was young was the popular breadfruit. I would always get the tree mixed up with the chataigne tree (Breadnut Tree ) and ask my cousins in the country to use their monkey skills to climb and pick it for me. Luckily for me, I soon learned the difference in the trees. Breadfruit is one food item that tends to take a back seat to many of the other well know ingredients we use today. It is referred to as a False Fruit and termed to be a flowering plant. However possessing a similar texture to a starchy provision it is classified world wide as a staple. It contains 25 Percent Carbohydrates and over 70 percent water content with small percentages of vitamin C (potassium and zinc) and thiamin. Hard to believe that such a husky fruit actually has a small percentage of carbohydrates as compared to rice which is such a minute grain.
One vivid memory I will always remember was the day I was introduced to breadfruit, my father had taken the mammoth green cylinder that he termed to be “ top ah de line ” and peeled, cleaned and cut it up into medium sized chunks to make the famous Trinidadian preparation “ Oil Down with Pig Tail”. To see how it was made and cooked as he vehemently believed that it must be prepared on a fire side to deliver that smoky flavor, he mentioned that the Breadfruit will yield the most creamiest and satisfying taste in your mouth when it absorbs all of the coconut milk liquid in which it was slowly cooked in. From that day forth, I realized that this “less famous” staple possessed so much potential in the kitchen as it related to preparing a vast amount of delicious creations, whether savory, sweet, appetizer –wise or even entrées.
With these ideas, parameters don’t exist with the usage of breadfruit. My Research has stated that Malayans peel firm-ripe fruits, slice the pulp and fry it in syrup or palm sugar until it is crisp and brown. Filipinos enjoy the cooked fruit with coconut and sugar. In Hawaii the fruit is peeled and halved and fermented in deep covered holes in the earth for 3 years then reclaimed and smashed to into a paste that produces a cheese like consistency relished by the natives. In some countries breadfruit flower has been very prominent as is dried and grounded to produce breads and other starch based products and proves to be scientifically healthier that wheat flour. But as a Chef I enjoy mostly slicing the breadfruit thinly and frying them at a moderate oil temperature and making chips, a favorite of mine & others I’m quite sure.
What is another important fact is that the breadfruit does have medicinal use here in Trinidad. A concoction of the breadfruit leaf is believed to lower blood pressure, and is also said to relieve asthma. Crushed leaves are applied on the tongue as a treatment for thrush. The leaf juice is employed as ear-drops. Ashes of burned leaves are used on skin infections. A powder of roasted leaves is employed as a remedy for enlarged spleen. In addition the tree trunk produces a flowing latex liquid that when cut it produces a sticky liquid. The latex is used on skin diseases and is bandaged on the spine to relieve sciatica. Diluted latex is taken internally to overcome diarrhea and of course because of its sticky character, it can be used to catch birds when they land on a (Laglee) trap.
With all this said, Breadfruit should be distinguished as a food item that should be diversified more into our local cooking, rather than the common culinary practices we exhaust everyday in Trinidad. It is because of this mind set and generic thinking I decided to show more a coveted side of breadfruit today where I created a dessert entitled Breadfruit Chocolate Truffles.
With an open mind and curious intuition, I ask that you try this unorthodox but delicious spin on a local staple.
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