My Jamaican mother was Jewish in her former life. Like many Caribbean women of her generation who left their homes for America, she’s a Registered Nurse who spent many years caring for the elderly in the Jewish community. That’s how she developed her passion for Jewish cuisine. And so while I was growing up, it wasn’t unusual to find gefilte fish in the fridge and matzo balls in the vegetable soup. While I didn’t inherit her love for those dishes, I absolutely love wild smoked salmon and smoked whitefish. And my mother, the consummate eclectic cook, knew how to put a Jamaican spin on everything. Jerk cream cheese is one of her many creations, smothering it on toasted pumpernickel bread topped with smoked whitefish and salmon. It’s like a Jamaican sushi roll. As we approach avocado season, one of my favorite Jew-maican recipes is a simple avocado whitefish salad. The marriage between the creamy, decadent avocado and the smoky, slightly salty fish makes you wanna holla, “Mazalta.”
Jam-Down Mazalta Salad
- 5 ounce Organic spring mix (I like Organic Girl)
- Smoked Whitefish filet (You can also purchase precut whitefish pieces)
- 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 teaspoon aged Modena Balsamic vinegar
- 1 ripe avocado, sliced
- Less than a pinch coarse salt (optional)
- Dash of scotch bonnet hot sauce (optional)
Whisk olive oil and vinegar in small bowl
In a large bowl, toss mixed greens and whitefish pieces with dressing; top with avocado slices. Season with salt. Add a touch of hot sauce. Serve immediately.
Note: If you buy a whole fish filet, pull out meat by hand.
Jerk Cream Cheese:
- 4 ounce bar cream cheese (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon wet jerk seasoning (I like Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning)
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a spoon.
Transfer mixture to a small bowl; smooth top.
Serve with carrot or zucchini muffin minis, crackers, toasted breads, bagels and English muffins. Try on top of crackers or English muffins with smoked wild salmon or whitefish.
To store: Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Dinkinish O’Connor is an award-winning writer. Her food sojourns have taken her everywhere from the shanty town bistros of Kingston to the gnarly vineyards of Bordeaux. She has written for Wine Spectator, Condé Nast Traveler, The Miami Herald and other publications. Dinkinish received her sommelier certification and hosts innovative wine tastings. To see what’s happening in Dinkinish’s sumptuous, little world, check out, “Gourmet Squatter,” a blog that explores how to sip high on a low budget.