Jamaican Food – Red Herring and Hard Food Recipe

Jamaican Food – Red Herring and Hard Food Recipe

Jamaican food like this hearty breakfast recipe, are so filling they also make a great dinner idea for you and yours.

Jamaicans love to eat ‘cooked food’ at any time of the day and although this meal takes a little longer to prepare, it takes little time to eat. It makes a perfect breakfast recipe if you are really hungry! Wholesome, filling and delicious, you too can cook this meal by following the easy steps…

Red Herring and hard food is a filling and delicious breakfast recipe, but it perfect if you are looking for hearty lunch or dinner ideas. The Red Herring comes dried and smoked and once soaked in water it is fried in oil with the seasoning and herbs and makes the perfect accompaniment to the hard food. Hard food in Jamaica consists of boiled provisions and can include any starchy vegetables, such as (Irish) potato, yam, green banana, pumpkin, dasheen and boiled dumplings. Caribbean food is generally filling and delicious and this meal is no exception. If you prefer you can eat the fish with fried dumplings, which are equally delicious and filling.



You will need:

    • a large bowl to soak the Red Herring
    • a sharp knife and chopping board to prepare the seasoning
    • a Dutch Pot or large frying pan to fry the seasoning and fish
    • a large Pot (saucepan), to boil the hard food

Throughly wash your hands and scrub underneath your nails if you can. Gather all your ingredients and cooking implements together and put them on the counter top so you have everything within reach and you will also save time and make it easier for yourself.


  Ingredients – Fish

    • 2 Smoked / dried Red Herring
    • ½ Onion
    • 1 Tomato
    • 1-2 Cloves of Garlic
    • Sprig Fresh Thyme
    • Piece of Scotch Bonnet Pepper (to suit)
    • 1 teaspoon of Black Pepper (to suit)
    • 1 teaspoon of All purpose Seasoning (to suit)
    • 1-2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup
    • Cooking Oil – Enough to cover the bottom of the pan
    • Water – to soak the Red Herring

 Ingredients – Hard Food

    • 2 (Irish) Potato
    • 6 Green Banana
    • Any other starchy vegetables such as: Yam, Dasheen, Pumpkin and so on…
    • Pinch of Salt
    • Water

Ingredients – Boiled Dumplings

    • 2 Cups Flour (Plain)
    • 1 tablespoon Salt / Low Salt
    • ¾ Cup Water


    Serves 3 hungry adults, or three medium-sized appetites – Takes about 30 minutes to prepare and another 20 minutes to cook; if you want  to feed more people, just double the quantities to enjoy this delicious Jamaican food…




  Stage One


    • Place the Red Herring in a large bowl and cover with water, set aside
    • Set on a large pot (saucepan) fill half full with water, add salt to taste and cover with pot cover (lid) Electric Mark 3-4
    • Make dumplings – place flour and salt in a large bowl, SLOWLY add the water and constantly knead the dough until it is firm and there is no dry flour in the bowl. The dough should NOT stick to your fingers once finished. Pinch a golf ball sized piece of the dough and place in the palm of your hand, use the other hand to fold the outer edges into the middle until the dumpling has a ‘firmness’ to it, use the ball of your hand to flatten the dumpling and leave a slight indentation in the middle, place in the bowl and continue until you use up all of the dough, set aside; many Jamaicans love to eat ‘tuff’ boiled dumplings, meaning that it has a density and firmness to it when cut and eaten
    • Wash and chop seasoning, onion, garlic, tomato, thyme, set aside
    • Wash and peel ground provisions, (Irish) potato and any other, such as dasheen or yellow yam; do not peel yam until the water has boiled so  you can put it straight in the pot (saucepan), otherwise it will produce a reddish slime which is not nice!


Stage Two

    • Once your pot (saucepan) has come to a rolling boil, add a splash of cooking oil, this will stop the provisions from ‘blackening’ in the pot, then carefully add the ‘toughest’ ground provisions first, i.e. add potato, and yam and so on if available
    • Place your green banana in a bowl of cold water, cover your hands with cooking oil (stops the banana turning black) and carefully cut off the top and bottom making a slit in the banana skin from top to bottom, now gently peel off the skin and discard, place the peeled bananas straight into the boiling water
    • Add the dumplings to the water and turn down the pot to Electric mark 3, replace the pot cover (saucepan lid) and leave to gently boil



Stage Three

    • Set on your Dutch Pot or deep frying pan on the stove on Electric mark 4 and after about 3-4 minutes, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the vessel; beware of small children going near the hot pan and pulling the oil over them
    • Now to tackle the fish, should it have been soaked for at least 20 minutes or so, the skin should be reasonably easy to peel off and discard, take time as you do not want to take up the flesh when removing the skin, snap off the head and ensure that the gills are fully removed with it and discard, now pull all the flesh off of the large central bone that runs from head to tail, discard as many of the smaller bones as possible as you do this so it is easier to eat and more child friendly, finally shred the fish into slithers and set aside
    • Once the oil has heated for about 3-4 minutes you can add the chopped seasoning, onion, garlic, tomato, thyme leave to soften; the oil should be suitably hot and ready for use before you finish preparing the fish, so you can add the seasoning once the oil is ready, rather than waiting for you to finish processing and shredding the fish which may take considerably longer
    • Check your hard food, the pot may want turning down to Electric mark 1-2 to finish boiling
    • After the seasoning has softened for about 3 minutes turn down the pot to Electric mark 3 and after another 2-3 minutes you can add your dry seasoning, ground black pepper and all-purpose seasoning, stir into the pot
    • Add your shredded Red Herring and stir, leave to simmer
    • After another 3-4 minutes add a good blob of tomato ketchup, stir and cover the pot for a few minutes


Stage Four

    • Check the hard food with a fork to check it is cooked, the toughest vegetables should NOT be hard in the middle, the dumplings will float once cooked – if everything is ready turn off the stove and using a slated spoon remove them from the water, share on to your plates
    • Turn off the stove for the fish and share on to the plates with the hard food, share some of the oil from the pot as it tastes delicious and it makes a ‘gravy’ to eat with the hard food
    • You can also offer a green salad, with lettuce, tomato and cucumber if available
    • ENJOY!


Jamaican food - Red Herring and Hard Food

Red Herring and Hard Food



If you enjoyed this Jamaican recipe and want to try more delicious Jamaican food,  click here for more easy, filling and nutritious Caribbean food recipes


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