Heaven for me when in Barbados is Bajan flying fish and a Bajan rum punch sitting overlooking the sea.
Bajan flying fish is a delicacy I grew up with. In tourist literature in the 1950s and 1960s, Barbados was often referred to as: “the land of the flying fish”. A flying fish was featured on luggage stickers of the time and is featured on the Barbados one dollar coin.
Barbadians have fished for flying fish for several hundred years, meaning that flying fish are important to Barbados not just economically but they holds a deep cultural significance.
Flying fish used to be found in abundance in the waters surrounding Barbados – today flying fish are much smaller and not as plentiful, driving up prices to the point that the island’s staple food is now becoming a luxury.
And, as the flying fish have changed their migratory pattens it has also sparked a flying fish dispute with Trinidad!
Flying fish have the ability to fly over the top of the sea for up to 40 metres, launching themselves out of the water at around 40 to 50 kilometres per hour, gliding over the wave crests using their substantial pectoral fins which act as wings. This ability is thought to be an adaptation to escape predators which include tuna, marlin, billfish, sharks, killer whales and dolphins.
There are a great number of ways of preparing Bajan flying fish.
Flying fish is best cooked fresh. Sometimes flying fish can be found frozen in the supermarket. If it’s not available, as a substitute any mild white fish can be used.
Here is what you need to make Bajan flying fish:
- 8 small flying fish fillets
- 2 limes (use one if they are large and juicy)
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- Bajan Seasoning as needed (see recipe)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Bread crumbs and flour, mixed
- 1/2 cup butter
- Lime slices and parsley for garnish
- Bajan hot pepper sauce as needed.
Squeeze the limes into a bowl with ¾ cup of water, add the squeezed limes too, add the salt and place the fish to soak for about ½ hour. Remove the fish, rinse and pat dry.
Rub the flying fish fillets with the Bajan Seasoning and a little Bajan hot pepper sauce, then dip them in the beaten eggs, then the bread crumbs and flour. Fry the fillets in the butter until lightly browned, turning once.
Serve garnished with the lime slices and parsley. Sprinkle hot pepper sauce over the fillets to taste.
I like my flying fish with French fries and a green salad. Others like their flying fish in a cutter (Bajan salt bread, a freshly baked bread roll with a crusty exterior and soft, fluffy interior. Despite the name, it actually isn’t salty at all.)