Little Ochie - delicious dishes galore
It was a long and winding journey to get to Little Ochie. After a brief discussion about whether it was located in St Elizabeth or Manchester, (it's actually located in Alligator Pond, Manchester) I finally arrived at my destination.
I was greeted by the friendly smiles of chefs Garel Kirlew and Kamarlo Dixon, who immediately put me to work. I would become a chef for a day and would prepare squid, lip fish, octopus also known as 'seapuss', cow fish, turbit, jerked turbit, grilled salmon, and jerked corn.
Though the names of the fish and how they looked were unique, it was the 'seapuss' that piqued by attention.
According to chef Dixon, seapuss is an aphrodisiac and should only be eaten when you have a partner to go home to. After seasoning up the sea food with a special concoction, it was time to turn my attention to the squid (calamari).
"You have to massage in the seasoning, flick it over and apply some more and massage it in," Kirlew told me.
After successfully massaging the squid, I then turned my attention to deep-frying it. It was quite tricky trying to get the squid in to the frying pan while wearing gloves, but I somehow managed to do it.
I barely had time to catch my breath when I was told that the seapuss was next. After seasoning it, I placed it on the grill. It takes about 5-6 minutes on each side for it to be properly cooked. While I waited for my seapuss to be ready, it was time to stuff my turbit, tobacco turbit and cow fish.
There is a special technique to open the cow fish and stuff it. I was not prepared for all the hard work, but I was determined to stick it out. The cow fish has horns at the top of its head, the fishermen also call it 'buck buck'. Being that it was a part of Unique Eats, I decided to give it a special name - 'raging bull'.
After stuffing the turbit and tobacco turbit (brothers, according to chef Kirlew), I once again made my way to the grill. The chefs place the food facing out, since it is easier to turn it.
Another unique dish offered by Little Ochie is jerked corn. I have had roast corn and boiled corn, but this was the first time that I had heard about jerked corn. "We're trying to get it out there. It's one of the best sellers right now. No other restaurant in Jamaica does this. It's unique to us," Dixon said.
The final dish on the menu was lion fish. It was one of the weirdest sea creatures I had ever seen. Rumour has it that the lion fish is poisonous, but Dixon quickly dispelled that rumour. By now, I was getting hot, and I was ready to head on out to the beach while the chefs worked their magic.
Less than 15 minutes later, about 12 plates were placed in front of me. I was given the honour of naming their seapuss dish. Of course, I decided to call it STAR Mango Sea Puss, because of its mango sauce.
One by one, I sampled the dishes as the chefs placed them in front of me. They were delicious. The deep-fried squid that I had done was, of course, perfection. I was a bit hesitant to taste the cow fish and the turbit, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was so delicious that I had to order one to go.
The lion fish surprised me the most. It was the 'meatiest' fish I had ever tasted. I am not a fan of run-dung, but I kept going back for seconds. Now it was time to taste the jerked corn. The mouth-watering goodness was too much to handle, I had to ask the owner, Evrol 'Blackie' Christian, to open a location in Kingston.
After having my fill, I went back for seconds from the seapuss. It really was an experience learning how to cook this delicacy, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed.