One of the great pleasures in life is good food. All around the world, people enjoy snacks both sweet and savory. It’s funny how different cultures have similar foods, with maybe a few seasonings which differentiate them. All over the world people eat a form of fried batter basically made of flour and water. The seasonings and spice make it very Caribbean and marinade is what we call it in Haïti.
Fried foods are very commonly consumed in Haïti. Street food vendors can be seen in every nook and cranny. They provide food as a service to many people on a daily basis who have no time to prepare a meal before leaving for work or school. In busy areas or transportation hubs, near schools, hospitals, factories and marketplace you will see street vendors sitting close to a cauldron of hot oil selling fritay or fried foods. The standard fare at these stands are pate kodè or a heavy fried pastry stuffed with meat, salt fish or vegetables, akra; (grated malanga root) marinade ( fried fritter made with flour and seasoning or griot ( fried pork) and fried plantains or sweet potatoes. This type of food is most basic, but it satisfies a large segment of the market of hungry customers all over the country everyday. In most restaurants serving Creole cuisine, you will usually find a sampler platter of Fritay on the menu. Haitians love their fried foods, and though they may not be the healthiest choices, they certainly are delicious.
In my home we are known for our akra recipe, so it’s standard fare as an appetizer when we have friends over. I have already published a recipe previously and I wanted to do something different so I started experimenting on a marinade recipe. Whenever I looked for a recipe in the past, the proportions in books were so vague that I wanted to make my own recipe. I guess every good Haitian cook has their own personal way of making the batter and most really don’t measure anything when putting this together. If you ask someone they’ll say “It’s a bit of this, a pinch of that” but no detail on proportions. This food was probably born from the idea of making something to nibble on and using was already on hand. Variations of marinade range from plain fried seasoned batter to additions of meat, or fish.
For me, chicken is a good addition though I also make them with shrimp. The lovely fried seasoned batter with pieces of chicken are tasty and a joy to eat. In French they say “ça se laisse manger” which basically earns that it’s not easy to eat just one. This recipe is my own interpretation of marinade. I have played around with proportions to come up with a tasty morsel that it is both delicious and light at the same time. These fritters must be eaten while they are hot and fresh as the consistency and outer crunch will not last once they are cold. It’s easy to make a batch and your friends and family will be very happy that you did. Sharing is caring, so make them when you know that you will have people over to enjoy them. Make a batch of pickleez or spicy Haïtian slaw to serve and you and your guests will be happy you cooked up these little morsels of deliciousness.
Marinade au poulet
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp of parsley chopped
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 – 1 tsp fresh habanero or scotch bonnet pepper
1/2 tsp of baking powder
Pinch of baking soda
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 tsp all purpose seasoning salt or 1/2 bouillon cube
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup of water
1 egg beaten
2 cups oil for frying
Chop the cooked chicken into small cubes.
In a bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, seasoning salt, black pepper. Mix together well.
In another bowl, mix egg, water, chopped green seasoning and oil.
Pour the liquids into the bowl with flour and combine.
Add the chopped chicken pieces. Mix together well.
Heat oil for frying. When oil has has heated properly, drop the marinade by a teaspoon spoonful into the pan and cook until golden. They will expand so do not crowd in the pan. I do about 4 at a time.
Place marinade fritters on absorbent paper to cool and to drain off oil.
Serve hot with pickleez.
NB: do not use a large spoonful when making these or your marinade may be uncooked in the middle even if the exterior is brown. Use a teaspoon for the best results.