Haitian mayi moulen bites, a new way to eat polenta

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I am not typically fond of cold mayi moulen (Haitian cornmeal). I actually strongly dislike it.

Yet, here I am today, making a risky move. I am once more attempting to offer you cold polenta bites.

You’re probably thinking that I have lost it. After spending so many days at home, – I will spare you the candid details about my beloved Haiti’s current turmoil – losing my mind could have been a possibility.

But worry not. I still got my head on my shoulders. I just checked…

Let’s go back to these bites though…

Thinking of it, it is the regular cold mayi moulen (polenta) that I struggle with. I will not eat my mayi moulen unless it is still hot and a bit runny.

You must be wondering where this newfound obsession of mine comes from. Truth be told, I myself am unsure.

Perhaps it all started with my djondjon polenta bites that earned me my spot at the World Food Championships last November.

Though, I had followed to traditional method, that polenta was not quite the same. I had put a lot more emphasis on my seasoning when prepping it for my cold bites.

I should mention here that the traditional mayi moulen uses base ingredients like salt, onions and garlic to keep it neutral. It is prepared that way because it is typically mixed with red beans or another gravy that enhances its flavor.

But when it comes to my cold bites, I want them to be bold in flavors regardless of their toppings. I, thus, put a lot more emphasis on the seasoning than I would with the every day mayi moulen.

The bites I am sharing with you today were cooked in a concoction of bay leaves, fresh thyme and garlic, piment bouc, salt and pepper. The same seasoning base as the djondjon bites. Only this time, I prepared my polenta without a seafood or djondjon broth.

Once it was cooked, I spread my mayi moulen on a baking sheet. This allowed it to cool down, and reach the perfect consistency needed to cut itwith cookie cutters.

Each “slice” of corn is either topped with a stuffing of herring or ham. They’re garnished with grated cheese and a piece of bell pepper.

And that is all.

I always had a thing for well-presented dishes. I enjoy decorating my food just as much as I love prepping it.

And I believe that’s the secret of these bites. They’re delicious. But they also look amazing on a plate.

These mayi moulen bites are dear to my heart. They allow me to bring a new touch to our every day cuisine.

They were born of my desire to rethink the way we present our Haitian cuisine to the world. I firmly believe many of our every day dishes can be turned into small bites.

We do have mouth-watering appetizers. The acras and marinades which recipes I share on this blog are proof enough.

I, however, think we can also venture into serving every day meals in individual portions.

And our local mayi moulen is perfect for this transformation. I encourage you to try it yourself.

I’m leaving you my recipe below as a starting point. Hope you enjoy it!

Haitian mayi moulen (polenta) bites

For the polenta

  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup of cornmeal
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • ¼ tsp of black pepper
  • 1 garlic head
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 1 piment bouc (habanero pepper)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For the herring

  • Prepared herring (recipe coming soon)
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
  • 1 key lime juice
  • Chopped habanero pepper (to taste)
  • Mayo (to taste) )

For the ham

  • 1 can of ham (SPAM like)
  • 1 chopped garlic head
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • Mayo (to taste)

Instructions

For the polenta

  1. Prepare a broth with the water, garlic head, habanero pepper, salt, pepper, bay leaf, oil and bring to a boil
  2. Bring to a boil
  3. Add the cornmeal and stir constantly until the water is absorbed
  4. Simmer for about 15 minutes while stirring occasionally to keep the polenta from sticking to the bottom of the pan
  5. Remove the garlic head, habanero pepper and bay leaf
  6. Spread the cooked polenta on a parchment lined baking sheet, allow to cool
  7. Freeze for about 2 hours
  8. Using a 1 in round cookie cutter, cut the polenta into bites (yields about 12 cakes)

For the herring

  1. Mix all the ingredients and set aside

For the ham

Mash the ham and season to taste.

To serve

Garnish each polenta bite with the herring or ham dip. Garnish with grated cheese and bell pepper. Serve at room temperature.

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