Jamaican Rundown with cassava dumplings

This Rundown recipe shows just how easy it is to make one of Jamaica's most beloved dishes at home. Salted mackerel is rehydrated and cooked in a simple stew of vegetables in a fiery coconut sauce, with boiled cassava dumplings on the side.

First published in 2020

Almost every island in the Caribbean has a national dish which has a specific connection to its individual history. To some, Jamaica's ‘unofficial’ second to ackee and saltfish is Rundown, which pays homage to the island's colonial past.

Caribbean cooking is humble yet multi-dimensional and this one pot dish is rich and full of flavour from the salted, cured mackerel and vegetables cooked in coconut milk that’s been reduced (hence the name rundown) until thick, creamy and almost like a custard. In Jamaica, this dish is usually eaten for breakfast and served alongside ground provisions (such as breadfruit, yam and cassava) and fried or boiled dumplings. Here it is served with cassava dumplings.

Ingredients

Metric

Imperial

Rundown

Dumplings

  • 250g of cassava, grated, or 250g cassava flour
  • 250g of plain flour
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 360ml of water

Method

1
Place the salted mackerel in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Drain, rinse and repeat this process once more to remove excess salt. Once rinsed for a second time, leave to soak in cold water
2
To make the dumplings, mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then gradually pour in the water until a dough forms. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic – if it feels too dry add water a tablespoon at a time until you’re happy with the consistency. Once kneaded, cover and leave at room temperature for 20 minutes
3
Meanwhile, place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the vegetable oil. Add half the onion, a quarter of the peppers and half of the tomatoes. Stir briefly then add the scotch bonnet, thyme, garlic, ginger, bay leaves and coconut. Continue to cook, stirring regularly, until the coconut begins to melt and curdle in the oil while you prepare the dumplings
4
To cook the dumplings, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Dust a work surface with flour and divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Form each into a smooth ball, then push your thumb into the centre of each to create an indentation and to flatten it slightly. Be careful it doesn’t become too thin in the centre
5
Boil the dumplings for 10-15 minutes, or until they have all risen to the top of the water
6
Meanwhile, add the remaining tomatoes, onions and peppers to the sauce and stir through. Drain the mackerel and place on top of the sauce – don’t stir too much, otherwise the fish will begin to break up. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes
7
Serve the mackerel Rundown with cassava dumplings on the side

Keshia Sakarah is a second-generation West Indian and owner of Caribe', a Caribbean restaurant based at POP Brixton in London.

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