Salt-cured beef and salt-cured pork constitute salt meat for us in the Caribbean. The cut of beef known as brisket is used to make salt beef as well and thick slices of the ribs tips. Salted pork is made with the pig's tail, snout and ears.
Salt meat is sold in small quantities primarily because it is used in small quantities, this is due to its high sodium content.
Each country in the region as well as each household uses salt meat in varying ways. Some use it to salt and flavor the entire dish they are cooking while others use is as the main protein in a dish. The use of salt meat as the main protein is particularly so in one-pot dishes such as Guyanese Cook-Up Rice (beans, rice and various meats cooked with coconut milk and fresh herbs), Trinidadian Pelau (very similar to Cook-up Rice) or Jamacian Stew Peas (stewed kidney beans and pig-tails).
Preparing Salt Meat for Cooking
- Salt-beef tends to be saltier than salted-pork.
- To remove the excess salt from Salt Meat, soak it over night in boiling water. Drain and rinse it the next day and then add it to a pot with fresh water and boil it for 20 minutes. Drain and use according to recipe.
- As a rule, you never want to remove all the salt from salt meat, you want to leave in just enough to taste.
- If you are using Salt Meat to salt and flavor a dish, you can opt to cut it into large pieces and add it to the pot at the onset of cooking. If, however, you are using it as the main protein for your dish, you will want to cut it into smaller pieces and cook it according to the instructions of the recipe.
- Some cooks prefer to add the Salt Meat as is without removing any excess salt. While this is perfectly fine, you will need to add less of the Salt Meat if not it can make your dish too salty.
Cooking Salt Meat
In Barbados, Salt Meat is used to flavor and salt the popular, everyday staple - Rice and Peas. The Salt Meat is prized in this dish and you will often find cooks removing it from the pot and setting it aside for themselves to nibble on, later.
Salted Pig-tails are a popular street food in some islands. The pig tails are boiled until most of the salt has been removed and the meat is fully cooked. It is then placed on a grill and constantly basted with barbecue sauce.
Stew Peas is a famous Jamaican dish that contains Salt Meat. It is a rich, thick, creamy stew of kidney beans and Salt Meat. The soup also contains dumplings, called spinners because they are long and slender in shape. Stew Peas is served over white rice.
Salted Meat is added to soups and stews also. It is particularly loved when added to dishes made with Ground Provisions such as Mettagee, Oil Down and Run Down (these are all various forms of Ground Provisions cooked in coconut milk).