Jamaican cooks make magic with fish. Dishes like run down aren't complicated, but they are definitely more than the sum of their parts. (The name originates from the way the fish is cooked until it falls apart, or "runs down.") When big chunks of fresh-caught fish, tomato, peppers, onion, lime juice, and a bit of hot chile pepper, distinctively Caribbean ingredients that you probably have in your pantry, come together in a coconut milk base, you end up with a fish stew that's hearty but not heavy. Here in New England the fishmongers sell cod loin, a thick cut of white fish; if you don't like cod, or can't find the loin cut, use salmon, halibut, red snapper or mackerel, whichever looks best at the market. Serve run down as a main course, with rice (for a gluten-free dish) or some crusty bread to mop the bottom of the bowl. Remember: food that comes from hot climates really does cool you down in the summer.
Jamaican run down (fish stew with tomato, peppers and coconut milk)
Adapted from Caribbean Cooking, this recipe accommodates any fish that looks best at the fish market. The original recipe calls for mackerel fillets. I often make this with salmon; when I made the recipe for these photos, I used beautiful cod loin from my local fishmonger. Serves 6 as a main dish.
Juice of 2 limes
2 lbs cod loin, salmon (skin removed) or mackerel, cut into large pieces
1 13.5-oz can coconut milk
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 Scotch Bonnet or jalapeño chile pepper, minced (I use red jalapeños, seeds and all)
1/4 tsp mild red pepper flakes (optional)
16 oz canned chopped tomatoes
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme leaf
1 Tbsp white vinegar
Squeeze the lime juice into a shallow bowl, and add the fish. Turn the fish pieces over a couple of times to make sure they are covered in lime juice. Set aside.
In a heavy, wide, high-sided skillet (you could use a nonstick wok), heat the coconut milk over medium heat until you can see some oil pooling on the top (2-3 minutes). Add the onion, garlic, pepper, pepper flakes, tomatoes, salt, pepper, thyme and vinegar. Cook, stirring once or twice to incorporate the ingredients, for 2 minutes, or until the liquid comes to a low boil. Reduce heat to low, and add the fish along with any lime juice in the bowl.
Cover, and cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper or additional lime juice, if needed.
More fish stews:
Moqueca (Brazilian fish stew), from The Perfect Pantry
Cioppino, from The Perfect Pantry
Italian fish and potato stew, from Aggie's Kitchen
Spicy red fish stew, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Sudado de pescado al coco, from My Colombian Recipes
Bouillabaisse, from Just One Cookbook
Caribbean fish stew, from Seduction Meals
Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on books purchased through the Amazon.com links in this post.
Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.