Run Down or Run-Dung is a popular dish in the Caribbean. In some places it’s called “oil-down” and includes more than just fish. In Jamaica, we make it with different types of fish including salted cod, fresh fish or salted mackerel. The fish is cooked in coconut milk that is slowly reduced to a slightly sweet coconut cream. It is only ever cooked with fresh seasonings like scallions, tomatoes, onions, thyme, scotch bonnet peppers, susumba/gully beans and dried pimento berries. There is usually no need to add powdered seasonings as the fresh seasonings will do the simple task of flavoring the cream. As this dish is so rich, it is usually paired with heavy provisions like roasted breadfruit, boiled dumplings, yam and boiled bananas. Those sides serve as delicious carriers for this extremely rich and sometimes oily sauce.
Jamaicans are proud of this dish because it originated in Jamaica and spread throughout the Caribbean and South America by Jamaican migrant workers. You can find versions of this dish in Trinidad, Grenada, Barbados, Nicaragua, and Colombia. It’s traditionally served for breakfast but can also be eaten for dinner. In this recipe, I reduced the milk to a custardy cream and stopped cooking it just before the sauce split and became too oily. That is the way I prefer to eat it but it’s completely okay to cook until the sauce splits.
For this recipe you will need:
- Medium bowl
- Cutting board
- Large skillet
- Sharp Knife
- Wooden spoon
- Medium Saucepan
- 2 salted mackerels
- 4 cups coconut milk
- 1 medium onion
- 2 sprigs of scallions
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 medium vine ripe tomato
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper
- 10 Allspice/pimento berries
- ½ tsp fresh cracked pepper to taste.
- Remove salted mackerel from packaging. Remove the heads of the fish with a sharp knife. Rinse fish under cold running water.
- Place the mackerel in a medium saucepan and fill with tap water slightly covering the fish. Set the fish to boil on high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, dump it and replenish the water. Boil fish a second time and repeat the process. Because we are using salted mackerel in this dish, we will need to boil the fish several times to remove the excess salt. Taste the fish after the second boil to ensure that it is not too salty. If it is still too salty, repeat the process of boiling the fish in fresh water a third time.
- Once the mackerel has cooked and the excess salt is removed, use a fork or knife to help with removing the large bones and breaking the fish apart. Remove as many bones as you can before adding fish to cook in milk.
- Dice onions, scallions, tomato, pepper and set aside.
- In a large skillet, add coconut milk. Keep milk on medium high heat and let it slowly reduce and thicken for about 10-12 minutes. This part of the process helps some of the water to evaporate from the milk.
- Add in chopped scallion, tomato, thyme, onion, scotch bonnet peppers and pimento berries. Cook seasonings in milk for an additional 10 minutes. The sauce should be reduced and more like a heavy cream/custard at the end of 10 minutes.
- Add in mackerel pieces and fresh cracked pepper. Give the pan a gentle stir to combine fish into cream sauce. Cook for an additional 2 mins.
- Serve hot with your choice of sides.
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