Chiktay Aran So (Smoked Herring Chiquetaille)

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I was never really allowed to go out until the age of 17 when I attended a dear friend’s prom night. My parents have practically kept my sister and me prisoner inside our humble home lol.
Ok…ok. It wasn’t as bad as I make it sound actually because they would go out to their friends’  house parties and we would always tag along.
Now, you must note that it’s not one of your typical crazy wild parties.
Actually, it would always be on a saturday/sunday afternoon, jamming to some Beethova Obas (haitian jazz) or konpa band. They would gather around and “give Odyans” (when a group of people come around in a cheery mood , share a glass and mostly very tasty never-ending conversation) .
These were beautiful moments, moments I always looked forward to. Moments when, at a young age, adults would invite you into their conversations, tease you about your flings and crushes and encourage you to follow your dreams. Times like this, I looked up to these grown-ups and wanted to grow up to be just like them. We would help out bring the dishes on the table or simply serve them to the adults or even have our own table with appetizers on them.
Oh I remember the CHIKTAY days! That word actually reminds me of the moments mentioned above.  Sweet memories!
I just had to post it up here.

This dish needs to start being prepared at least one day in advance.
Serves : 3

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of oil
  • 1 Purple onion cut into cubes
  • 2 -3 Caribbean Pepper (Scotch Bonnet Peppers)
  • 1/2 cup shallots (chopped)
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • NO SALT
  • 4-5 smoked herrings
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar

Directions:
Because the smoked herring is very salted and dry (this is done to preserve the fish so that it doesn’t perish ),  the first process will be to unsalt the fish.

  1. Fill a recipient of water at room temperature. Let your herring soak inside the bowl for 10 to 12 hours or simply overnight. Change the water as often as you think you should. Check for saltiness.
  2. Fill a pot with water. Not too much. Just enough to cover the fish. Let it boil for 10-15 mns. You will notice that the fish will slowly open up, exposing its bone.
  3. Once you’re done boiling, drain the water out and start ” fishing” for bones.  Take out the very hard bones. Don’t worry about the soft ones, they’re edible. (I’m scared of fish bones, so I took out as much as I could) . Tear the fish into small little pieces leaving out the skin. That part should be easy because this will tend to happen as you’re taking out the bones.
  4. Whisk your oil and vinegar together. Add your herring to the mixture.
  5. Wash your Caribbean Peppers, throw out the seeds and cut into small pieces ( do so using a glove so that you don’t accidentally rub your eyes with your fingers that may have come in contact with the peppers).
  6. Add peppers to the oil-vinegar-herring mixture. Add the remaining seasonings (shallots, onions, black pepper)
  7. Mix well and leave in a pot over fire for about 5 mns, stirring regularly.
  8. Sometimes you may boil out too much salt (meaning that you left your herring with no salt). That actually happened while I was cooking . So I had to add a little bit more salt.

Chiktay is usually served with Haitian bread (smal round bread) or cassava.

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