Growing up, my favorite treat was bun-bun. Bun-bun is the crispy, burnt bottom of food – usually rice. There is something so magically delicious about the slight smokiness, crispiness – with ever just a hint of sweetness – of that bit of food that defiantly sticks to the bottom of the pan. This is particularly true with Jamaican Seasoned Rice – a one pot meal of highly spiced (seasoned) rice with other ingredients thrown in. I have prepared it the traditional Jamaican way and added delicious chickpeas and roasted pumpkin.
Now that I am a fancy chef and all, I know how prized this bun-bun is. In the culinary world, we call this sucs. Of course, since sucs is French and everything sounds so fancy in French – the bun-bun just got an immediate upgrade. Sucs are the caramelized bits of food left over particularly when cooking protein. When deglazed, sucs form the foundation of an amazing pan-sauce.
The sticky bit of rice that is left over in this dish isn’t necessarily good for any sauce but it’s perfect for your tummy. That is simply my favorite part. To be fair, I’ve always had a penchant for crispy or even slightly charred food. When I was in Primary School in Jamaica (America’s Elementary school age), my mom would make me fried plantain sandwiches to take to school for lunch. I would require she fried it to the point of blackness. She obliged.
One day, my teacher looked into my lunch pan and saw this maddening black sandwich. She wrote a note to my mother advising her to stop burning my food – essentially telling her to learn how to cook. Let me tell you something, dahlings, my mother is a beautifully composed atomic bomb. She will destroy you so eloquently and with a smile that you’ll thank her afterwards. A little later you’ll reflect on what happened and realize just what a dressing down you were handed. My teacher, however, didn’t have to wait till later. My mother was painfully clear and direct in her onslaught.
I learned many things that day, not the least of which being the value of minding one’s own business. Ol’ time Jamaicans used to say, “If yu noh mash ants, yu noh fine him guts.” (If you do not smash an ant, it is impossible for you to find its guts. That is, if one is not provoked, it is impossible to know the extent of his fury.) Perhaps my teacher stopped mashing ants that day.
Dahling, here’s to enjoying this amazing dish and minding our own business!
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