Veritab boukannen, “véritable obsession”
Today, we’re taking a road trip outside of Port-au-Prince. Our destination? Jacmel, a city located in the South East of Haiti.
Before we begin our drive, I must warn you about one of our adult passengers. Just like a child, he will be fascinated at the sight of the fruit trees we call arbre véritable in Haiti.
One, two, tree…twenty…sixty… your traveling companion will spend the entire ride counting the trees in the green landscape that surrounds you.
He will give them so much attention that you will be tempted to stop the vehicle quite a few times to handpick the fruits. You’ll, of course, refrain from doing that. Instead of risking your life handpicking a fruit from a tree that’s not yours, you’ll promise to take him to eat some veritab as soon as you make it to the city.
Chances are you won’t find this fruit on any of the restaurant menus you’ll peruse, however.
Fortunately for you and your fellow traveler, you’ll visit a friend while in town. Thanks to an impassioned talk between your host and your veritab-obsessed friend, you will finally hold true to your promise.
Your host will offer you this fruit prepared in a way you’ve never heard of before: veritab boukannen stuffed with aransò en sauce!
You’ll quickly discover that this dish is one of the easiest ones to prepare. This fact will surprise you as you will wonder how come you’ve only had boiled veritab, veritab pesees and accordeons before.
The cooking method is a bit archaic to say the least. The veritab is cooked on a burning fire. The entire fruit is set as is on a makeshift grill made of a bunch of dried coconut leaves, carcass and twigs. The fruit will remain on the open fire until its skin is calcined and the fruit splits open, a sign that it is fully cooked.
Once the fruit is ready, the outer calcined skin is removed with a knife. Don’t worry; its flesh will remain intact. The cooked veritab is then stuffed with aransò or codfish which juice will permeate the flesh. The final fish choice is up to you.
Such was my foodie experience during my last visit to Jacmel with a cousin during the long Easter weekend.
I sampled our veritab boukannen stuffed with aransò for the first time. Our host had also topped it with grated cheese and popped it in the oven so as to allow the cheese to melt.
Had my veritab-obsessed cousin not been along on this trip, I probably would have never gotten the chance to discover this wonderful local dish.
I am grateful for having let him tag along. This was a worthy unplanned culinary adventure.
I invite you to give it a shot. No need to go as far as Jacmel if you can’t make it there. You can prepare our veritab boukannen at home so long as you have the fruit on hand and some herring.
As for the makeshift grill, I am sure you can ditch it. Some burning charcoal should do the job equally well. 😉
- Prepared aransò
- Light a charcoal firepit
- Put the unpeeled and uncut veritab on the open flames
- Allow to cook until the fruit splits open. The skin will turn dark black but worry not, its flesh will remain intact
- Remove the fruit’s heart without splitting it in half. Fill it with your prepared herring
- Cut the fruit open right before serving. Enjoy!