…...Chef Jamall shares a bit about his culinary journey as well as the recipe to “love” in a pot
The Bahamas has a rich history and culture, full of colorful parables, sayings and fables. And, there is a story about a soup that is so powerful that a bowl of it can make the diner fall in love with the one who prepared it. The original story about the Coo Coo soup’s origins is a bit more scandalous, to say the least, but Chef Jamall Petty shares his version of a soup so good, that it will make anyone fall in love with it. He also tells us a bit about what inspires him, as a chef, and how he is bringing a gourmet twist to the Bahamian food truck scene.
Chef Jamall: I actually wear a few hats, but they all fall under culinary or entertainment and at times a bit of both. I am the Owner of Foodplay Cafe Pasta Truck where we create pasta dishes using locally grown, seasonal ingredients, with a Bahamian twist on Italian favorites. I offer private chef/catering services for small & very large events. I'm also a culinary entertainer who hosts live cooking demonstrations, fun interactive cooking shows and online cooking classes on www.chefjamallpetty.com. I also host a talk show for people who are in love with food, called TasteBuzz on Guardian Radio 96.9 FM on Mondays at 7:30 p.m.
Q: What has been your most memorable Bahamian dining experience?
Chef Jamall: The most memorable dinner experience I have ever had was a popup dinner event that I did three years ago, as a fundraiser to assist a student in pursuing her dream in becoming a chef. The theme of this dinner event was inspired by the "Game of Thrones" television series. We literally transformed the Bahamas National Trust into a medieval dining experience that was a combination of storytelling through food that I created, and yet stood in awe as the event was unfolding. This was primarily because everything in that environment spoke to the theme, from the moment the foodies walked into the gate. The food was amazing, but it was a part of a greater whole that touched all 5 senses.
Q: If you could choose only five staple ingredients, what would they be and why?
Chef Jamall: My five ingredients would include:
Flour - It's a versatile ingredient that lends itself to many different applications from soups and savory dishes to desserts.
Onion - While working at a local resort, I met a guest who came for dinner. He explained that he had an onion allergy and asked if we had anything on the menu he could have. I was surprised at the request and quickly realized that over ninety percent of the items on the menu had onions added. It then dawned on me how important this one item is to building flavor in foods.
Kosher Salt – It’s an incredible ingredient that enhances and reveals the flavors in food. A pinch of salt can mean the difference between a good and an unforgettable dish or dessert.
Lime - As a Bahamian .... One thing I cannot do without is the wonderful citrus flavor and acidity of limes. This super fruit adds a burst of freshness to drinks, desserts, fish, poultry and the list goes on and on. In The Bahamas we love limes so much that some people invented fables to slow down its usage, saying that it cuts your stamina.
Curry - Powder or homemade paste, Caribbean, Asian or Indian ...... Let's be Clear - I love the flavors of Curry. It's like the topic of the book of my dreams - "fifty shades of curry.” If there were a curried toothpaste, I'd try it. Anything that starts with curry is going to probably be good. I sometimes even add it into dishes where people would least expect it.
Q: If you could recommend one ‘must try’ dish, while in The Bahamas, what would it be?
Chef Jamall: I would recommend that anyone visiting The Bahamas try Coo Coo Soup. Some say it's mythical and a part of Bahamian storytelling and folklore, but older folks will tell you that it's more than a soup, it's a bowl of relationship goals, marriage counseling and the cure for commitment phobia.
Q: And lastly, can you name one of your favorite Bahamian chefs or culinary inspirations?
Chef Jamall: My greatest culinary inspiration is the greatest cook that I know .... My Mother, Jane Dorsett. I was inspired to become a chef by watching her and my dad compete at home to see who makes a better family meal. My mom was always the winner, in my mind, but seeing her creativity and expressions of love through food inspired me to become a Chef.
Check out Chef Jamall’s All Bahamian Coo Coo Soup recipe, in his own words. Much like many Bahamian songs, you may have to read between the lines to get the gist.
Coo Coo Soup Recipe
Lil bit a conch apx. 2 large (tenderized cooked and cut into strips)
Lil seafood (scrimps aka shrimps – mussels, clams and or fish cut in cubes- apx. 4 each)
Some conch & under garment stock (or 1 - 12-ounce carton of chicken broth)
1 ole tomato
Couple slices of salty sausage (Mild Italian or andouille can substitute)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Lil dash of all-purpose flour
1/4 cups finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
Lil Scotch Bonnet to taste
Lil chopped fresh parsley
Lil salt or season salt to taste
Method of Preparation
Peel and devein shrimp, placing shrimp shells in a large pot with conch. Use selected garment to hold the onion and celery halves and thyme together securely and add to the pot with the conch. Then add stock and simmer for 15 minutes or until shrimp shells are pink. Remove from heat and keep warm until needed. Refrigerate shrimp until needed.
In a medium Dutch oven or pot, cook sausage until browned. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add oil and cook okra over medium heat until slightly caramelized, then add remaining vegetables and cook until wilted.
Dust vegetables with lil flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the relationship with the flour and veg is like good quality lotion to dry skin.
Remove garment and pour stock through a fine-meshed sieve into Dutch oven. (you may add 2 to 3 garments for extra trapping potency to expedite relationship goals)
Add seasoning, thyme, and bay leaves, plus the reserved sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer for a few minutes. Add parsley and shrimp. When shrimp are pink, remove from heat and add lil pepper to taste.
Serve to your potential bae and enjoy your happily ever after.