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Caribbean Sides: Goin' Coo-Coo

Barbados gets credit for originating the Caribbean version of cornmeal mush, which is called "coo-coo." On some Caribbean islands it is also known as "funchi," or "fungi" (pronounced foon-jee); on others it is known as "foo-foo."


Coo-coo, with its West African origins, is often served as a side dish for the popular steamed flying fish or with soup, but Islanders also include brown sugar and make it for breakfast.

Actual preparation takes just a few minutes, but coo-coo is even better after it has cooled and then fried and served with butter - just like mush or polenta.

Tutu is the beefed-up version of fungi; it also packs a sweet punch with plenty of brown sugar mixed in with black-eyed peas and salt pork or bacon.

Try these recipes for coo-coo and tutu.

Coo-Coo

-In saucepan, add 1 cup cold water, 1 ¼ cups cornmeal, and 1 level teaspoon salt.
-Begin warming up the mix.
-Pour in 1 cup boiling water and continue stirring.
-Bring to a boil and stir constantly for about 3-4 minutes.

As the mixture thickens in the last minute, do not stir. When it pulls away from the sides of the saucepan, remove from fire and pour into bowl. Shake the bowl; this allows it to settle. Turn out onto plate. Serve immediately or allow to cool and then deep-fry. Serve with butter.

Okra coo-coo incorporates the familiar sliced green veggie; strip the fuzz and slice into small bites.


Tutu (mush and black-eyed peas)

3 ½ cups water
1 cup cornmeal
1 ½ cups black-eyed peas
½ cup brown sugar
6 strips bacon, diced
3 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt

Cook the black-eyed peas according to package directions (overnight soak or quick cooking)
Mix 2 cups tap water and 1 cup cornmeal and bring to a boil.
Add other ingredients (minus remaining water)
Boil remaining water and add to mixture.
Continue boiling and stir until thickened (per coo-coo directions).

As with any other part of the world, ethnic terms and recipes go by many names and have many representations. For instance, tutu a mineira (black bean puree) is a Brazilian variation and well worth trying. In Nigeria, obe eja tutu is a fish pepper soup.

As always, experiment and play around with these recipes. Add bells or hotter peppers and onions or any other ingredients until you find the right blend that your family likes.

See ya back on da' boat, mon!

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