I was lucky enough to be offered a cookery masterclass at the hottest restaurant in South London, Bubba’s in Tulse Hill, a few weeks ago. Kitted out in proper whites and everything, I had the undivided attention of their Michelin trained chef, Anthony Cumberbatch who spent several hours talking me through a multitude of Caribbean classics and ingredients.
While the curry goat and oxtail stew simmered, I sampled the menu in the restaurant, loving every minute of the jerk pork belly and the tender trio of fish and seafood with a rich spice crust. The fried plantain with ginger compote was so good I may have run my finger round the bowl when no one was looking. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful and the portions were so substantial, I could only manage the (excellent) sorbet selection of mango, melon and pineapple after my meal even though the other desserts such as mango strudel or the exotic fruit plate sounded great.
Back in the kitchen Anthony showed me a ingredient I had never even heard of, let alone cooked, in the shape of a breadfruit. Starchy, yet slightly spongy, this fruit absorbs flavour brilliantly, making it a fantastic side dish. It was delicious fried up with some jerk spices and even more than the okra and the goat, I felt inspired to cook with it after the class.
This warm weather cries out for salad and there’s few that I love more than a Caesar salad with a umami rich dressing and crunchy croutons. Still fixated on the breadfruit, I wondered if instead of my usual sourdough croutons I could deep fry some chunks of the fruit and scatter them over crispy romaine lettuce. I had a feeling I’d enjoy finding out…
Breadfruit Caesar Salad: serves two
- 1 romaine lettuce
- quarter of a breadfruit (most stalls in the market will cut it as required)
- 5 tablespoons breadcrumbs (I used panko)
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 anchovy fillets
- Oil for frying (not olive)
For the dressing:
- the remains of the egg from above
- 1 egg yolk
- juice of one lemon
- 50g parmesan, shaved
- teaspoon Worcester sauce
- 2 cloves garlic (or heaped teaspoon garlic puree)
- teaspoon capers
- teaspoon mustard
- 100ml olive oil
- freshly ground pepper
Peel the knobbly skin off the breadfruit and remove the inner seeded core. The flesh should be slightly spongy but not soft. Cut into inch chunks and then dip in the beaten egg and then dredge in the breadcrumbs and parmesan until coated. Double dip if you like it really crispy and then fry in hot oil until golden brown and crunchy all over.
Mix the lemon juice, worcester sauce, smushed up capers and garlic and mustard together, add in to the remaining egg (this gets round the fact one egg is always too much when breadcrumbing things) and the egg yolk. Then pour in the olive oil as you would to make a mayonnaise and whisk until emulsified. If it doesn’t thicken, add a blob of mayo instead of panicking.
Drizzle the dressing over freshly washed romaine lettuce, chopped anchovy fillets (leave these out if unlike me you aren’t a member of Anchovies Anonymous) and slivers of parmesan and then add the crispy crunchy croutons. Add a bit more dressing for luck and plenty of pepper and tuck in.
The breadfruit is fluffy in the middle and gorgeously golden on the outside, like the perfect crouton combo. It works extraordinarily well with the anchovy rich dressing and the savoury parmesan. If you use just the parmesan or sub gluten free breadcrumbs you can still eat Caesar salad if you’re gluten intolerant. Try adding more capers and some nutritional yeast to substitute the Lea and Perrins and anchovies if you don’t eat fish. This meal is so good you’ll be serving it to everyone. In fact, it’s good enough to go on the menu at Bubba’s in my opinion!