A recipe from Simeon Ivens, better known as Junior, proprietor of the official snack bar of the 2015 Ghetto Biennale. Junior’s long, battered refrigerator-cooler, protected with the tiniest of padlocks and almost always full of bottled water and cold Prestige beer, was the Ghetto Biennale oasis. He describes this recipe as “very creole.”
Maggi® Seasoning Cubes
Scotch Bonnet Pepper
Sweet Green Pepper (ajícito)
I started out by asking: How is white rice prepared in Haiti?
No, Junior said, when you make diri blan avek sos aran so, you are supposed to make the sauce first, because you might not have two fires, and you want the rice to be hot.
First thing, you buy your herring, you wash it, rub it with a little bit of lemon, and then you put it in water. Then get your oil heating up. When it’s really hot, you put some tomato paste in there and fry it. Stir it up so it melts. When that’s done you empty the herring into it so it can take a little bit of the color from the tomato paste, then you put in some water and then some Maggi, you add a bit of pepper, a little hot pepper, a very little, very lightly, and a little sweet green pepper, then you boil that up until it’s the way you want your sauce to be.
So then, if you don’t have two fires, you take your sauce off the fire once it’s finished boiling, you put your rice pot on the fire, put in oil, when that just starts smoking you put a stalk of scallion in there, then you put your salt in and fry it, and when you a little bit of smoke coming up off there you put in your water. When it starts to boil, then you put in your rice.
How do you know if you have enough water for your rice?
OK, so when you put your rice into the water, if you stick a spoon into the middle of the pot, if that spoon stands up straight, you’re good. If it falls over, you have too much water for your quantity of rice. Making white rice, you have some people who don’t know, they put Maggi in there, but white rice doesn’t have Maggi in it, once you put Maggi in there it isn’t white rice any more, the Maggi changes the color. When your rice is finished, you get your bowls and serve out the rice, and put a little onion on there and put your herring sauce on top.