Stewed saltfish (salted cod) is one of those dishes that is pretty universal across the Caribbean. Boiling out a bit of the intense saltiness, re-hydrating the dried salted fish, and sauteing the soft flaky results with tomatoes, onions, pimentos and other seasonings is a regional staple. It can easily be paired with any number of sides and was at one point a very economical choice. These days, saltfish is — as my granny would say when things were too expensive — “Mr. Saltfish.” Prices have skyrocketed on the popular item in recent decades.
Nevertheless, it is a beloved dish that conjures vivid memories of Saturday afternoon lunch during my childhood. After a long day of shopping and errands, we’d return home and my mom would boil ground provision — sweet potatoes, green bananas, and cassava — to serve alongside a quick saltfish stew.
Now that I’m vegan, I’ve spent lots of time and trying to replicate the flavor and texture of that dish. I’ve used hearts of palm, grated coconut, artichoke hearts, and although they all tasted close, they aren’t always readily available in my part of the world. Therefore, when the craving hit hard last week, I looked around and all I had was some leftover broccoli and pak choi stems. I’ve been actively trying to reduce my food waste by using as much of each ingredient as possible. Thus, broccoli and pak choi stem “saltfish,” if you please.
Gather your things…
4–5 broccoli stems
2 bundles of pak choi or bok choy stems (the white part)
3–4 roma tomatoes
1 small onion
2–3 large cloves of garlic
Trini green seasoning
Nori Furikake/ Nori sheets/Fish Seasoning blend
Badia Sazon Complete
Soy sauce/Tamari/ Coconut Aminos
Pepper Sauce (black pepper)
Coconut oil (or fave frying/ sauteing oil)
1 small stock pot
A frying pan
Food processor (optional)
Fill your stockpot with water, top it with your colander — if you have a real steamer, insert here — and turn on a medium.
Peel the tough outer layer of your broccoli stems, when you start to see a light greenish-white color, you’ve arrived at the tender center. Stop peeling, rinse and add to your steamer.
The hard end of the pak choi stems, rinse the white stems, and add to your steamer.
Season everything with two to three splashes of soy sauce, a pulverized nori sheet/nori furikake/fish seasoning, and a tiny sprinkle of season.
Cover the colander with a pot cover to trap the steam and let steam until just tender. You DO NOT want your stems to overcook because you still have to fry them up to make your stewed “saltfish.” This should take between 5 to 10 minutes, watch carefully.
Once steamed, let cool and then pulse in the food processor once or use a fork to achieve the look and feel of saltfish — a sort of shredded or flaked look.