Caymanian roasted snapper an Easter treat on the table

 

If you are a regular shopper, you cannot help but have noticed that the stores have been gearing up for Easter for quite some time, with camping supplies, tents and gas cookers piled high in preparation for Easter.  

Camping at the beach is an Easter tradition in the Cayman Islands that is as popular today as it’s always been. Favorite spots include along the Queen’s Highway in East End, in and around Rum Point and Cayman Kai, along Seven Mile Beach, Smith Cove and on South Sound.  

Camping gives families and friends the opportunity to spend time relaxing and catching up over the four-day holiday. Eating together is a vital part of the camping experience, and generally campers eat what they catch in the sea – snapper, or perhaps other smaller reef fish, along with simple sides that take little time to prepare. And there’s nothing like the smell of the campfire to get appetites properly whetted for the feast in store. 

To get a feel for what Easter campers will be eating this holiday, Weekender visited the kitchens of Foster’s Food Fair, where the store’s deli and bakery senior manager Tanya Foster and Sonia Peck, Foster’s Airport deli manager, roasted a whole red snapper. 

  

Traditional Easter fare  

Peck says she used to camp every year when her children were small. She says tradition has it that no cooking should take place on Good Friday, the start of the Easter holiday, so the fish would be cooked on the Thursday before Easter and eaten cold on Good Friday, along with rice and beans also made the day before and reheated on the open fire while camping.  

Bun and cheese is another favorite at Easter time, generally bought from the store, along with tasty homemade hot cross buns. The fish, usually snapper because it is so plentiful, is cooked in an aluminium foil packet to retain the juices that will come from the fish as it cooks. 

Ingredients  

(should serve a family of four)  

 

  • Two 1½-lb whole fish (gutted, scaled and cleaned with lime juice) 
  • 1 small onion (thinly sliced) 
  • 1 medium bell pepper (thinly sliced rings) 
  • 1 tomato (thinly sliced) 
  • 1 hot Scotch bonnet pepper sliced (optional) 
  • 2 limes (juiced) 
  • 4 tbsp butter 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

 

Accompaniment (to serve poured over the fish)  

 

  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced 
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced into rings 
  • 1 hot Scotch bonnet pepper thinly sliced 
  • ½ cup white vinegar  
  • Chopped pimento (optional) 
  • Pinch of sugar 
  • Salt and pepper 

Place your cleaned fish on a large sheet of foil. Season the outside and inside of the fish with salt and pepper. Layer three to four slices of onions, bell peppers and tomatoes inside the fish. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the chopped Scotch bonnet pepper (you can leave this out if you can’t take the heat). Squeeze the juice of one lime on the outside and inside of the fish. Put two pats of butter on the vegetables. Fold the foil to make a pouch that completely wraps up the fish and which can either be placed on the outdoor grill or cooked in a hot 400F oven for about 8-12 minutes or until cooked through. Smaller fish will take less time to cook. 

Next, prepare your accompaniment by mixing all the ingredients together. When it’s time to eat your fish, pour the mix all over your fish. All the delicious pickling juices will be absorbed into the fish’s flesh and the pickled vegetables will go perfectly as a sharp and tangy accompaniment. 

 

Easy side dishes  

A delicious side dish to the snapper is a simple roasted breadfruit. Breadfruit is a species of flowering tree in the mulberry family, Moraceae. It’s plentiful here in Cayman, where the trees produce their huge green globes year round.  

To roast breadfruit, place it whole on the campfire after its stem has been removed and a cross cut into its top with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape. Foster says the breadfruit should roast in the embers of the fire until it is blackened all over, so turn it regularly. Once removed and allowed to cool, the outside can be peeled back to reveal the sweet flesh. It’s particularly good served with a pat of butter mashed into the flesh. Any leftover breadfruit can be sliced and fried in oil to make breadfruit chips, another local favorite. 

 

For cooks at home, a quick breadfruit salad can easily be rustled up as another, slightly more labor-intensive side dish. 

 

Ingredients  

 

  • 1 large breadfruit 
  • 1 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1 small yellow pepper 
  • 1 small red pepper 
  • 1 small green pepper 
  • ½ bunch parsley 
  • 3 green onions 
  • salt and pepper to taste  

 

Peel and core the breadfruit and then cut it into 1 inch pieces. Cook in salted boiling water for about 15-20 minutes or until tender. Strain and allow to cool. Finely chop the yellow, red, and green peppers. Chop the parsley and green onion. In a mixing bowl, add the breadfruit, peppers, onions, and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and refrigerate. Garnish the salad in a decorative bowl and with fresh parsley. 

Tanya-Foster-and-Sonia-Peck-S

Tanya Foster and Sonia Peck with roasted Easter snapper. Photo: Lindsey Turnbull

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