Growing up I was so hesitant to try different things. I grew up in Michigan, and was closest to my mom’s family that was local, so most of my family gatherings and holidays reflected my maternal grandparents southern (Georgia and Arkansas) roots of collard greens, macaroni and cheese, ham, dressing, you know all the southern staples. Every year when Holy Week came around, my dad who is from the island of Antigua, would make a traditional antiguan breakfast from his home. This was the one time of year that we would have this meal. When I say we, I totally mean my mom and dad. When my dad told me he was making salt fish, spinach with eggplant, and ducana dumpling, I had very little interest, well the ducana dumpling was never denied. Having not been around my dad’s side of the family as frequently I never saw my cousins eating this traditional island food, or paid attention until I was older. Anyway I will share that story with the curry chicken blog post, stay tuned.
My uncle makes this breakfast the best, and I look for it anytime I am over his house on a Sunday morning in New York.
I now cook the traditional Antiguan breakfast for Good Friday as well, and embrace all of my Antiguan traditions. So I thought I would share with you how to make the breakfast for you and your family. Please feel free to leave comment or pin or share this blog post.
- Ducana Dumpling
- 2 cups of coconut shredded (fresh or sweetened)
- 2 cups of white sweet potato
- 1 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup water or coconut water
- Salt Fish
- 16 oz. salted cod
- 1 1/2 bell pepper (red, green, and yellow)
- 1 large onion (thinly sliced in rings)
- 2 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
- 4 oz of tomato paste
- 1/2 cup of water
- Chop Up
- 1 large egg plant
- 1 1/2 container of baby spinach
I started with the preparation for the ducana dumpling. Ducana dumplings are the sweet part of the meal. It is a really tasty blend of sweet potatoes, coconut, sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and coconut water. You simply mix all of the ingredients and spoon it on foil squares to make small foil packets (traditionally banana leaves).
I wanted to do this Antiguan breakfast as traditional as possible, so I started with a whole coconut, and worked my biceps to crack it open, and shred the flesh on a grater. I also shredded the sweet potato on the grater as well.
After I added all of the seasoning, the memories started to come back, when I knew what was coming together in the kitchen.
After adding the flour I mixed it all together and started scooping the mix on foil squares.
You can cook them right away, or make them ahead and cook them later.
I decided to make mine a day in advance, and then boil them for 30 minutes
This is the part that made me the most hesitant as a kid. This salted cod. It makes the kitchen kinda stink for a little bit when you open the package. I purchased the cod that had the bones removed so that I wouldn’t have to spit out bones as I took every bite, though, I think that is kind of part of the experience.
I immediately put the fish in a pot and add water, to start the 24 hour soaking, I changed the water about twice through the 24 hours. And once I was ready to cook it, I drained it one more time and added fresh water, this gets most of the salty taste out. I boiled 16oz of fish for 45 minutes.
While the fish was cooking I began cooking the vegetables (green pepper, red pepper, yellow pepper, garlic, onions, scotch bonnet) for the salt fish, and once it was softening I add tomato paste and a bit of water until I get the right color.
I broke up the cooked salt fish into small bite sized pieces.
Once the fish was broken up into small pieces, I added it to the vegetables. And after looking at dish at its final state, it is so pretty, I don’t know why I was so hesitant to try it.
The last part of the meal is the easiest, we call it Chop Up, and it is simply made by sautéing eggplant and mashing it into steamed spinach.
I got a little anxious and didn’t get my eggplant smashed enough, but the flavor was there. Whenever I prepare this or eat it, I think of a song my dad used to play all of the time for me by Mighty Sparrow (Calypso genius, ask my dad). Though Sparrow’s song apparently had a bit of a mixed meaning, but oh well, I like the song.
We typically eat the breakfast with a crusty french baguette, and the perfect bite is a little bit of everything at once. My uncle makes this amazing spicy cucumber salad that is pickled in, well I don’t know what but I love it, and recently his son sent me the recipe for it so I can’t wait to try to duplicate it as well. Thanks Deke, I love you and get better soon.
This was a great post and perfectly captured our childhood. Of course you brought the tears at the end….. I had no clue he sent you a recipe.
Thanks For Sharing this amazing recipe. My family loved it. I will be sharing this recipe with my friends. Hope the will like it.