If there were ever a recipe that epitomizes putting “tender loving care” into a dish or a recipe, it would be hudut.
When made entirely from scratch, there’s hand grating coconuts and manually mashing plantains involved!
Unfortunately (and kind of fortunately), we didn’t do that ourselves. And when using a few “shortcuts,” these mashed plantains can be whipped up extremely quickly, as in under half an hour.
Whichever way you choose to prepare, though, you’ll come across an incredible and tasty look into the Garifuna cuisine.
What is Hudut, and Where Does It Come From?
Hudut is a mashed plantains recipe that comes from the Garifuna people, a very interesting subset of Caribbeans now spread around Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The history of the Garifuna – or Garinagu – people starts in the 1630s with a shipwreck.
In 1635, two Spanish ships containing Nigerian slaves crashed and sank off the coast of Saint Vincent. The survivors – almost all Nigerians – swam to shore and were given shelter and respite by the local tribe of Carib Indian people. Over the next century and a half, the two ethnicities intermingled and mixed and created what is now the Garifuna people. Some of the Garifuna eventually made their way to Belize in the 1830s, when a civil war caused many to flee to other parts of the Caribbean.
In terms of cuisine, there are two main staples in almost all Garifuna foods: green plantains and coconut milk. Many Garifuna dishes also make abundant use of ingredients like garlic and black pepper. All these flavors lend themselves to dishes that are sweet, spicy, creamy and slightly bitter all at once. Hudut, of course, is no exception to these rules.
About the Mashed Plantains and Fish Stew Recipe
Hudut is one of the most recognizable and famous dishes to come from Garifuna cuisine. While the entire dish is most commonly called just hudut and refers to the mashed plantains, the name itself is thus a bit of a misnomer… or at least it doesn’t encapsulate all the elements of the dish.
Hudut – also known as Hudutu Baruru – refers to a combination of both green and ripe plantains that are boiled then smashed together into a smooth paste-like texture. Making hudut the traditional way, alternatively known as “the way without a food processor,” is a very labor intensive process of mashing together the two types of plantains into a paste with a mortar and pestle. While we made most of our own mashed plantains via the food processor, we did try a small amount via mortar and pestle, and we can confirm that this would make for a really great workout if done regularly.
The other part of this recipe is the sere, or a coconut gravy. Again, most traditional preparations are extremely labor intensive and, based on what we learned from local writers, might involve hand grating a fresh coconut to get the milk. In our case, we used regular coconut milk the entire way through and didn’t try to hand grate our own coconut… maybe next time.
The sere is assembled by first pre-browning fish filets – usually a red snapper type of fish – and then setting aside.
Once you’ve browned the filets, you add your coconut milk to your pan, bring it to a boil, and then re-add the fish and other ingredients like garlic and fresh herbs. The coconut milk reduces to a slightly thicker consistency, mixes with juices from the fish, and gives way to a darker color to the broth.
The full meal consists of the hudut – or “plantain paste” – and the sere, which is used as a gravy that you mop the hudut through and eat with your hands. It is an awesomely fun way to eat and is a quickly very filling meal.
Our Take on the Recipe
Obviously, we didn’t go the full way in preparing the recipe as traditionally as possible. While it would have been fun to hand grate coconuts and make mashed plantains in a mortar and pestle, it would simply have been too labor intensive. Having ready-prepared coconut milk and a food processor really cuts down on some of the longest parts of this recipe, which we readily and gladly accepted.
One thing we really liked in particular from our original reference recipe that was left out in some others was the use of okra. We personally found that our versions of hudut with the okra tasted better (and looked better) than our versions without, so we deliberately included okra into our final recipe.
Another small, perhaps inconsequential addition we had was adding a few extra fresh herbs to the sere. We kept these as optional, but we personally loved the addition of them into our own mashed plantains.
In the end, hudut is an absolutely delicious and generously filling mashed plantains recipe, and the dish can be made in under 30 minutes if done “with shortcuts.”
Especially if you try making this on a weeknight, this route is highly recommended!
Have you made mashed plantains from scratch before (grated coconuts and all)? How was it? Comment below!
- 1 Green mashed plantains
- ½ Ripe mashed plantains
- 2 tablespoons water (maybe more, maybe a lot more, depends on how thick or smooth you want your hudut)
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar (optional if you want a sweeter hudut)
- 1 red snapper fish, descaled gutted and cleaned. If you'd like, you can cut into large pieces as well
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 1 onion, chopped and diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1-2 handfuls of okra, cut into ¼ inch slices (optional)
- 1 handful of freshly chopped cilantro
- 1 handful of freshly chopped oregano (optional)
- 1 handful of freshly chopped basil (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To start with the hudut, bring a large stockpot of water to a boil and add the green plantains. Boil for 15-20 minutes or until soft (with similar texture to that of a potato cooked through)
- After the first 5 minutes, add the riper yellow plantains to the boiling stockpot as well
- Remove the fully cooked plantains from the stockpot, drain the water, and mash. You can either use a mortar and pestle here or a food processor to make your mashed plantains
- Add the water to your mashed plantains if they becomes too dry, and add coconut sugar to get your desired level of sweetness (if desired)
- While the plantains are boiling, cut the fish into separate filet pieces, or you can leave the fish whole if you'd like
- Make incisions in the fish with a paring knife along the same line as the fish skeleton. Make small ½ inch deep incisions so you can season the fish
- Season the fish with salt and pepper and set aside as you heat your saucepan
- Heat a saucepan or wok with coconut oil to high heat or until the oil starts to sputter
- Add the fish filets to the saucepan and cook for ~40 seconds on each side or until the fish starts to brown. Remove the fish once it has
- Add your coconut milk to the saucepan and bring to a boil
- Once boiling, add the onions, garlic, and okra to the coconut milk
- After 1 minute, add the fish and reduce heat ever so slightly, and cook for 20 minutes
- If you're adding fresh herbs, add some in when you have 10 minutes left until the hudut is done. The remaining herbs can be used as a garnish
- And you're done! Serve the sere with a hearty helping of your hudut (mashed plantains), and don't forget to eat with your hands