On my recent Barbados holiday I tried Pudding and Souse and vowed to give it a try when I returned. Last Friday I had the opportunity.
This fascinating dish is a Bajan Saturday tradition. It uses cheap ingredients to make something flavourful and very different. The pudding is a real find and something that I will use more and more. Grated sweet potato is complemented with green onion, parsley and scotch bonnet. Butter, salt, pepper, sugar and oil are added along with whatever spicing you want to add to make it yours. Ideally you let the flavours come together overnight and then it is baked for 40 minutes or so. I find it needs to be covered first and then coloured for the last part of cooking to get the right texture but a little colour too.
The Souse is usually made out of pork head, tail or foot meat and a follower recently told me her family would put the tail in the pudding to add flavour. I settled on ribs to carry the spirit of the dish but to carry it to a wider UK appeal. I cooked the ribs covered in a casserole with a layer of water for 70 minutes and then finished them uncovered for around 15 minutes.
The souse dressing is onion, grated cucumber, thinly sliced sweet pepper, scotch bonnet to taste and lashings of lemon juice. I bought some Caribbean hot pepper sauce to go on the side.
What resulted was a bright plate of food – there is bright orange, green and red on display. The pudding is delicious with the sweetness of the vegetable somehow made more earthy through roasting. It would go well as a side dish with most roast dinners – especially in the winter. The souse is zingy and sour. The essence of the dish is where pudding meets souse and a little pepper sauce at the bottom of the bowl with a little sweet potato thrown in. The pork is really about adding some texture to the dish and so ribs are fine. Finger-licking is probably a compulsory part of the experience and so I feel I did it justice.