Thursday, 30 August 2012

Olympic Food Challenge: Hoppin' John - Bermuda

Ask anyone what they know about Bermuda and they will tell you about one of two things.  The Triangle or shorts.  In honour of this post, I'm writing it whilst listening to Barry Manilow singing Bermuda Triangle.  Yes, it's in my iTunes collection.  Hell, if you've read any other posts on this blog, I've probably told you worse things about me than that I have Bazza's Greatest Hits.  It's all because I love Copacabana.

In fact, I could tell you something worse about my husband.  Some of you may know that we disagree about most things.  It drives me potty when we go out in the same car that he'll change whatever I'm listening to.  I started listening to Radio 5 Live because of him but this summer I've not been allowed to listen to it because he only likes listening to the football commentary and not the news.  He grew up in the eighties, and being a massive eighties fan, I like most of his CD collection - but he won't let me listen to them in the car.  When we went to Scotland in the summer, I swear he chose eight hours of music he knew I'd hate on purpose.  Anyhow, recently, I got into the car with him and pre-emptively switched from the CD and he actually changed it back.  Because the CD had Copacabana on it and apparently he loves it.

Maybe we'll be like the Ballad of Tom Jones, but rather than being saved by Tom, we'll eventually stop fighting like cat and dog and be saved by Bazza's Greatest Hits.

I digress. Bermuda.  I'm supposed to be talking about food and the Olympics.  Right.  Okay.  Well the first thing that surprised me was to find that one of the most popular dishes in Bermuda is fish and chips.  But not a fancy foreign version.  Good old English fish and chips.  I never realised that Bermuda is British territory.  Or that it was quite so far away from the Caribbean - I'd been expecting the cuisine to be more akin to West Indian food.  Every day is a school day.

So after discounting the majority of the dishes listed on Wikipedia, I settled on Hop n' John which is apparently the national dish.  Wikipedia states that it's a dish of rice and peas which I know is common in the West Indies - if you were to ask my half sister what's for tea, she'll tell you she's having 'rice and peas and ding' every day.  But like most simple 'ethnic' dishes, there were a zillion and one recipes for Hoppin' John out there.  Mostly with a creole bent.

In the end, I just made up my own recipe.  About the only thing all the recipes agree on is that you need white rice and black eyed beans.  Or peas.  But I believe the beans and peas to be the same thing.  Then you can add any of the following - red and/or green bell peppers, dried or fresh chilli, herbs (commonly coriander, parsley or thyme), onions - regular and/or spring, tomatoes, bacon, ham, sausage - frequently chorizo, chicken and so on.  I didn't come across a dish that specifically used seafood in it but you never know.  This is definitely my kind of dish and it's now my new favourite storecupboard tea.

Before I give you my version of the recipe, a little about the Olympics.  Despite sending eight competitors to London 2012 to contest in five different disciplines, Bermuda left empty-handed.  They have just one athlete competing in the Paralympics in the 100m, 200m and 400m.  I wish her the best of luck.

Recipe - Serves 4

  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 rashers smoked back bacon, snipped into small pieces
  • 75g chorizo, cubed
  • 1 small red or green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 400g tin black eyed beans, drained
  • 200ml fresh chicken stock
  • Handful of fresh parsley or coriander, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, deseeded and diced
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • salt, freshly ground black pepper and garlic granules to season
  • 300g basmati rice (dry weight), cooked according to package instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil over a medium flame in a large frying pan.  Gently fry for 5-10 minutes until caramelised.  Remove from the pan and place to one side.
  2. Fry the bacon and chorizo in the pan for 3 minutes until starting to colour.  Add the celery and pepper and cook for another two minutes.
  3. Pour in the chicken stock and beans and cook for a further five minutes until the beans are tender. and the stock has mostly evaporated.  Return the onion to the pan and heat through.
  4. Season to taste with the salt, pepper and garlic granules then stir through the parsley or coriander.
  5. Divide the rice between four plates, top with the Hoppin' John and garnish with  the spring onion and tomatoes.

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