Hudut – A traditional Garifuna recipe from Belize.

Hudut is a traditional Garifuna dish.  A savory fish stew cooked in a creamy coconut milk base. The stew is served with mashed plantains, known as fufu, which is typically eaten by hand.  It was my good fortune to meet a man named Ivan who was staying at the Lebhana Drumming Centre.  His plan was to cook Hudut the next day and he generously invited us to try it and join him for lunch.  I asked if he would mind if I watched him prepare the dish or even assist him.  He agreed and so we set a time and place and our cooking class was set.  I was elated.

Ingredients

Mackerel fish (about 1/4 pound per person) cleaned

Alternate type of fish such as snapper (about the same quantity as the mackerel)

2 coconuts – flesh shredded**

6 plantains (usual ratio is 1 ripe plantain for every 2 green ones)

1 onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

salt, to taste

2 pks chicken flavor bouillon (Ivan used Malher brand)

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

** The shredded coconut is used to make approximately 4 cups of coconut milk and then the meat is discarded.  Alternatively, you could use 2 cans of coconut milk with each can watered down with 1 can of water.

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Ivan prepared a fire for us to cook over and placed a big pot of water on the grill to boil and next to that came a frypan with a generous dousing of oil.  Cooking over a fire does add some flavour to the dish, but Hudut could easily be prepared on your stovetop.

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Remove the head of the fish and set aside. Cut the body of the fish crosswise into 2 inch chunks and score each piece several times diagonally approximately 1/4″ deep.  Rub a little salt into each of the slits.

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Fry fish skin side down in batches until golden and crispy on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.

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Peel the plantains and add the green ones to the boiling water.  Cook for 5-10 minutes before adding the ripe ones to the pot.  Boil until tender (same tenderness as a boiled potato). Once they’re done, remove from water and set aside.

There must be a special technique that I'm missing on this coconut shredding workout.

There must be a special technique that I’m missing on this coconut shredding workout.

Ivan adds water to the shredded coconut to create coconut milk.

Ivan adds water to the shredded coconut to create coconut milk.

Gently work the shredded coconut by squeezing the water through it.  Continue to do this until the shredded coconut is virtually tasteless.  Strain the mixture through a sieve and discard the shred or preferably save it for making a coconut dessert.

Stir your chicken bouillon into the coconut mixture.

Stir your chicken bouillon into the coconut mixture.

Bring the coconut milk to a boil and add 2 packets of chicken bouillon, pepper, garlic and onions to the pot.

Add your fresh herbs about 10 minutes prior to serving.

Add your fresh herbs about 10 minutes prior to serving.

Ivan has carved his own mortar and pestle just for mashing plantains.

Ivan has carved his own mortar and pestle just for mashing plantains.

To prepare the plantains, Ivan mashed them in a large wooden pestle and mortar with a bit of salt.  I think you could probably use a regular potato masher and receive similar results.  He seasoned the plantain with a bit of salt and added a small amount of water to keep a stiff dough like consistency.  The final result was still thick enough to slice with a knife.

To serve, Ivan removed the fish and placed them on a plate. He strained the sauce into a separate bowl.  I don’t think I’d mind having the bits of onion and garlic in the sauce, but perhaps that’s just not the traditional way.

Ivan adds water to the shredded coconut and works it to make coconut milk.

Ivan adds water to the shredded coconut and works it to make coconut milk.

Each guest serves themselves a generous portion of plantain, some of each type of fish and spoons gravy over everything.  Don’t forget to use your hands to eat, breaking off small amounts of plantain and mopping up the gravy with it is one of the best parts.

I hope you enjoy the dish as much as we did!

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