Solomon-a-Gundy, born on a Monday, christened on a Tuesday, married on a Wednesday, took ill on a Thursday, worse on a Friday, died on a Saturday, buried on a Sunday, that is the end of...you know who.
That is quite a tragic tale indeed, but nevertheless a fable at best. I do hope the Gundy’s had some form of life insurance, after all, their entire DNA does not lend to a lengthy existence. Yah Mon!
But seriously, that little rhyme about Solomon-a-Gundy was very popular among children back in the old days in Jamaica. I later found out that this little rhyme had its origins in old Europe some long time ago and it referred to pickled fish.
Little did I know that this rhyme was associated with one of our favorite snacks we call ‘red errin’- that is “Red Herring” in Her Majesty’s English…‘Nuff Said.
As it were, we would gather under a tree at night to tell duppy stories (ghost tales) to scare some of our faint-of-hearted friends. And we would sometimes snack on ‘red ‘errin’ an’ crackers during story time…that is if there were no available fresh fruits.And before red 'errin' was made into Gundy.
Some of us would combine the smoked herring with butter or cheese and eat it with bread or breadfruit.
Now red ‘errin’ is smoked herring cured with salt. And I mean lot of salt. Because of that, just eating smoked herring like that can become very boring after awhile. So we added other ingredients to the smoked herring, and that is the beginning of Jamaican Solomon-a-Gundy.
The "traditional"Jamaican Solomon-a-Gundy included salted mackerel and shad boiled together, but in my opinion that’s just too much fish in one dish. I’ll just stick with the red ‘errin’ and make a simple recipe then you can take it to the nth degree. It’s your choice.
1 lb. Smoked Herring
½ doz. Allspice balls (pimentos)
½ cup Vinegar
1 Large Onion (chopped)
1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper or Habernero Pepper
1 Stalk Scallion
½ tsp. Thyme
4 tbsp. Oil
1 tsp. Sugar
Bring water to boil and then add the smoked herring to the water. This process will remove some of the salt from the fish. Allow the fish to boil for about 15 minutes.
Discard the water.
Warm the vinegar with the pimento balls and sugar on a low fire and stir occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. Do not boil the vinegar.
In the meantime, remove the bones from the smoked herring. You may not get to remove all the bones but do as many as you can.
Now add the chopped onion, oil, peppers, scllion, and thyme to the electric blender. Puree for 1 minute.
Make sure that the sugar is dissolved into the warm vinegar and then remove the pimento seeds.
Add the fish and vinegar solution to the rest of the ingredients already in the blender. Puree for another minute and your Solomon-a-Gundy should be ready by now.
It is your choice to make this “dry” or smooth by increasing or decreasing the puree time in the blender.
You can serve this with crackers, bread, or potato chips. A dip can also be made from this by adding mayonnaise or cream cheese…the sky’s the limit on this one.
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