Growing up with a Trinidadian mother, the only thing I looked forward to on Saturday mornings were fry bakes and tuna. These golden fried biscuits are a staple of Trinidadian culture. You can find them selling like hot dogs at the beaches served with shark or seasoned codfish. In fact, most Trinidadians refer to the dish as “Fry Fish and Bake” or “Bake and Shark”. For those who have never eaten shark, it has the texture of tilapia and it is usually breaded and fried, as well when served with the bake like a crispy fish sandwich.
This type of fried dough can be found in other cultural dishes. For example, when I first moved to California and attended several First Nation cultural festivals, one of my favorite dishes to eat was referred to as the “Indian Taco”. At the time as an adolescent, I was not aware of the racial connotations that came with the name of the dish but upon further research I later learned that the bread used was traditional Navajo fried bread.
The taste and texture of the bread was very similar to that of the West Indian Fry Bake. In addition, there are so many ways to dress this bread from topping it with wild rice to adding sweet toppings of Nutella and banana, such as the Canadian Beaver Tail.
What sets this fried dough apart from most?
In a typical West Indian household, this is a breakfast/ brunch meal normally eaten with fish. A measure of a good bake is if you can eat it with butter alone. Most of the time, we ate our fry bakes with tuna, but on special occasions our mother would stew codfish until it was glossy, red, and rich in flavor. Those days felt like we won the lottery since codfish was scarce and expensive to find in California.
For this recipe, we are focusing on texture and dough formations. It is very simple, easy to make, and easy to enjoy!
|Prep Time||Cook Time||Total Time|
|20 MINUTES||10 MINUTES||30 MINUTES|
3 ½ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon shortening
½ cup of warm water
Two cans of tuna
½ onion diced
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1 tablespoon of cilantro diced
In a large mixing bowl, throw in all your dry ingredients and mix thoroughly then add the shortening, breaking it up into smaller pieces until mixed in the flour as well.
Take the warm water and add it little by little to the flour mixing to form a dough lightly kneading it. Do not over knead the dough. Once the dough is formed, let it rest for 15-30 minutes.
*Keep an eye on the texture of the dough. If the dough is too tough to knead, add more water. If the dough becomes too liquidy, add flour little by little until the dough forms a ball easy to knead.
Once the time is up, start kneading the dough again until it is a smooth ball. Then separate the dough into several small to medium sized balls.
With each ball start flattening the dough to form disks. In this time, you can start heating your oil in a frying pan on medium heat.
Once you have flattened all the balls, check the heat of the oil by hovering your hand above the pan. If you can feel the heat, it is ready. Another way to check is by taking a piece of the dough and placing it in the oil to see if it starts frying.
Fry each dough disk until it is golden brown then it is ready to serve!
So tasty and buttery, this dish serves for a great brunch item with friends. You can eat this sandwich with ingredients of your choice including my favorite, avocado and hot sauce. In fact it is a must to do so!