Trinidad Buljol (recipe)

Buljol

Salted codfish, tomatoes and the hottest peppers known to man. Probably not the most scintillating combination on paper, but believe me one taste and you -will- be hooked! Buljol is without a doubt one of my favorite breakfast foods. I love the way that the saltiness of the dried shredded cod plays off the cool wetness of the tomatoes and the spicy shreds of scotch bonnet peppers. It is a simple topping that needs little accompaniment. I often have it plain on buttered toast (as pictured above), or with some wholewheat bake or hops. If I’m feeling decadent I add chunks of creamy zaboca (avocado). YUM!

Factoid:
The name of this salad of shredded saltfish comes from the French brule, meaning burnt, and geule, slang for mouth. Since it is served at room temperature, the burning is obviously the result of the Congo pepper. Traditionally, buljol is served for breakfast or a Sunday brunch. – Dave DeWitt

According to Epicurious.com buljol is known in some other parts of the Caribbean as ‘Pick-Up Saltfish’. I have never heard of this term before so please let me know if this is accurate or not, and if so in which parts. My Jamaican mother says she never saw this dish before moving to Trinidad. Thanks!

Now I’ve seen recipes for buljol that include hardboiled eggs, lettuce and other strange (to me) ingredients -within- the buljol, rather than on the side. I don’t know (and feel free to let me know your variations) how common these versions are in the ‘real world’, I’ve certainly never had or seen them. To me the beauty of buljol is how simple and unadorned I know it to be. That’s why this is the recipe that I’ve decided to share :)


Recipe: (from Naparima Girls High School Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1/2 lb saltfish (salted cod)
1 or 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 tsp fresh hot pepper, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped or sliced
1 sweet pepper, finely chopped (we don’t use sweet pepper in our version)
1 – 2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

1. Break fish in pieces and place in saucepan with cold water
2. Gradually heat to boiling and throw away water.
3. Repeat until fish tastes fresh and no longer salty
4. Remove skin and bones and break pieces of fish in even smaller pieces
5. Blend fish with remaining ingredients.

This post was originally published December 27, 2006. It has been updated once since then.

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Passionate foodie, founder of Trinigourmet and Caribbean Lifestyle Maven. Author of "Glam By Request: 30+ Easy Caribbean Recipes"

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  • anita

    tx mom and caribman for your reply. Surprise to hear avocado/zaboca in the dish. In your recipe, u use tomato and saltfish. Going thru the thread, I see cabbage.

    Since it is not home-made, it was delicious at restaurant. Since kid then, do not know what vegetable it was. Might be cabbage but I doubt. U have to understand, restaurant use a filler and trying to understand.

    If have to make, I will combine your recipe with mom magical oil. Of course, bake non-fried for more tasty and healthy. Too bad no info on that restaurant or family member. tx

  • anita

    tx mom and caribman for your reply. Surprise to hear avocado/zaboca in the dish. In your recipe, u use tomato and saltfish. Going thru the thread, I see cabbage.

    Since it is not home-made, it was delicious at restaurant. Since kid then, do not know what vegetable it was. Might be cabbage but I doubt. U have to understand, restaurant use a filler and trying to understand.

    If have to make, I will combine your recipe with mom magical oil. Of course, bake non-fried for more tasty and healthy. Too bad no info on that restaurant or family member. tx

  • Liddy

    I grew up eating this dish made with peppers, tomatoes,cucumber and lime juice. We often had bakes ( a baking powder fried bread similar to floats. sometime baked in the pan on top of the stove too) with it, and sometimes avocado on the side. The best way was with fresh from the bakery what we called penny bread ( any one visiting or having lived in ST.Vincent& the Grenadines know that these are elongeated loaves that are crusty all round and they no longer cost a penny) Boiled green plantain, banana and ground provision go well with it too, especially white sweet potato.
    I live in Labrador, so these are treats when ever I travel out.

    I love reading the variations for these recipes I grew up eating ( didn’t know about recipes then, we just “cooked”)I looked at the Black Cake recipe and remember helping to make the browning and beating the eggs with lime peel, now I use the comercial browning stuff.
    Great site, I will spread the info around. Maybe add a link to my blog

  • Liddy

    I grew up eating this dish made with peppers, tomatoes,cucumber and lime juice. We often had bakes ( a baking powder fried bread similar to floats. sometime baked in the pan on top of the stove too) with it, and sometimes avocado on the side. The best way was with fresh from the bakery what we called penny bread ( any one visiting or having lived in ST.Vincent& the Grenadines know that these are elongeated loaves that are crusty all round and they no longer cost a penny) Boiled green plantain, banana and ground provision go well with it too, especially white sweet potato.
    I live in Labrador, so these are treats when ever I travel out.

    I love reading the variations for these recipes I grew up eating ( didn’t know about recipes then, we just “cooked”)I looked at the Black Cake recipe and remember helping to make the browning and beating the eggs with lime peel, now I use the comercial browning stuff.
    Great site, I will spread the info around. Maybe add a link to my blog

  • Liddy

    I response to the person who hates the preparation process for salt fish, there is a product out of NL now. It is tinned saltfish, no hassle at all.

    • suze

      @ Liddy – Do you know the name of the tinned saltfish? I live in Ontario, therefore; i would love to try the tinned saltfish. thx,

  • Liddy

    I response to the person who hates the preparation process for salt fish, there is a product out of NL now. It is tinned saltfish, no hassle at all.

    • suze

      @ Liddy – Do you know the name of the tinned saltfish? I live in Ontario, therefore; i would love to try the tinned saltfish. thx,

  • Jeannelle Bodden – Fatta

    I am so happy i came across this recipe….

    my mom’s friend makes a great one but i never ventured in this territory

    thanks!!

  • Jeannelle Bodden – Fatta

    I am so happy i came across this recipe….

    my mom’s friend makes a great one but i never ventured in this territory

    thanks!!

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Too many comments to respond to all but keep up the discussion. I enjoy reading it and the varied viewpoints/experiences are one of the reasons I love having this site :)

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Too many comments to respond to all but keep up the discussion. I enjoy reading it and the varied viewpoints/experiences are one of the reasons I love having this site :)

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  • Dee

    I made this today for a breakfast lime at work – it went over great! I added a little more hot pepper than you posted in the recipe and we had it with hot coconut bake with avocado on the side. My dish was the first to be cleared! It was delicious!

  • Dee

    I made this today for a breakfast lime at work – it went over great! I added a little more hot pepper than you posted in the recipe and we had it with hot coconut bake with avocado on the side. My dish was the first to be cleared! It was delicious!

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