Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Great Jug Jug Blow-Back

Every blogger has a controversial post, the sort of thing that invites scathing criticism and hate mail. Of course if you're The Alpha Parent or Free Range Kids then pretty much everything you write ends up being controversial. For me, it was just jug jug.

If you're a longtime reader you may remember jug jug ... It's the beloved Christmas dish served in Barbados. So beloved, in fact, that woe be to any blogger who gets it wrong.

Not everyone who complained about my take on jug jug was full of such blind fury that they couldn't even see straight long enough to, you know, send me a better version of the recipe. I did have one reader who did not make me feel like an awful human being, and had a recipe from a favorite Bajan cookbook that she was kind enough to post. So I have to begin by apologizing for just how long it took for me to get around to making this new version of jug jug, and then I have to say that her recipe was indeed about a million times better than the one I originally used.

Which brings me to my next point, the recipe I originally used. Now, all the jug jug related hate mail I've received was aimed directly at me, as if I'd somehow devised an evil version of jug jug out of my cruel and sadistic imagination, just for the sole purpose of giving jug jug and Barbados a bad name. So I feel I must point out that the recipe I used came from what I believed to be an authentic Bajan source, and I followed all the directions faithfully and used all the required ingredients, right down to the cassava flour (instead of guinea flour) that that particular recipe gave me permission to use as a substitute. Here's the original recipe, and as you can see it is pretty significantly different from the version sent to me by my reader, which is as follows:

Jug Jug
  • 4 cups water
  • 8 pints green pigeon peas
  • 1/2 lb salt meat, soaked
  • 1/2 lb pork, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 lb green seasoning (see below)
  • 3 springs fresh thyme
  • 3 stems fresh marjoram
  • 1 cup guinea corn flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp butter
And here's my reader-approved green seasoning recipe:

Lady Jane's Perfect Pinch
(From Lady Jane)
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped fine
  • 1 habanero pepper
  • 1 small bunch parsley
  • 1 small bunch dill
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig marjoram
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • Lime juice to taste
  • Splash of vinegar
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
The seasoning is easy, so make that first. Just chop everything as instructed and then mix it all together. I put mine in a food processor to get it nicely mixed. That's all!

Now make the jug jug:

First boil your pigeon peas until soft. I had some canned peas so I got to skip that step. Now, you're meant to reserve the cooking water but I just substituted the liquid from the can.

Cut up the salt meat into bite-sized pieces and fry with the pork pieces. Add the perfect pinch seasoning, the habanero, herbs and the reserved water.

Now fish the meat out of the water, put it in a food processor with the peas and grind it all up together. Meanwhile, add the guinea flour to the water and cook until you get a nice porridge-like consistency. Add a little bit of water as needed if the mixture is too thick.

Transfer the meat and peas back to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring often. Top with a few pats of butter and serve.

So I hope I have vindicated myself with this dish. It was a lot more flavorful and had a nice texture compared to the first recipe I tried to make, and it looked the way I'm told it's supposed to look; the first one was quite watery and this one had more body. I served it with some fresh bread from Safeway's bakery and some ham steaks, which I actually fried instead of boiled. It was a good meal, almost like Christmas, except without the turkey and cranberry sauce. :)


  1. Lol, I am glad you liked it better. It's maybe an acquired taste for most. Anyway, did you like the green seasoning? If you did, it is delicious to season chicken and fish with also.. it's mainly used for flying fish, but I like it with any protein.
    Thanks for trying it again!

  2. I did, I thought the green seasoning gave it a great, unusual flavor. We can't get flying fish here but I might try it with tilapia. Thanks again for the recipe!!

  3. Thanks for your recipe Becki! Love your response to the critique of the original!
    Here's a piece I wrote about Jug-Jug and I hope you don't mind me referencing your blog and image.


  4. Thank you Philip! I appreciate your comments and am off to check out your post. Sorry I didn't get back until just now, for some reason Blogger decided to stop telling me when someone comments on an older post.


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