Jamaica The Complete Book of Caribbean Cooking

Run Down

A true Jamaican original, Run Down is a delectable fusion of salt cod, coconut milk and tomatoes.

The nature of being a food blogger, especially one that specializes in vintage, mid-century cook books, is that I try a lot of different recipes. Not all of them make it onto the blog, that’s kind of the point. When I told my love ones that I would be embarking on a journey through Caribbean cuisine they were thrilled. Their mouth watered with anticipation at all Jamaican meat patties and Jerk Chicken that awaited them in the near future. What they weren’t expecting was salted cod…a lot of it, in a lot of different forms. Let’s just say that the recurrence of salted cod on the menu has become a point of contention and for good reason. It’s a tough, briny, punch in the face.

So, when our friends come over to reap the rewards of a sumptuous, unique, time travelling feast and congratulate my girlfriend on what a lucky life she leads to be constantly treated to these culinary marvels–what they don’t experience is the prick of that double-edged sword. For as many times as she arrives to the dinner table a pampered patron, she is also my number one guinea pig, subjected to a fair amount of peculiar, bizarre, or just downright mediocre meals and, needless to say, my success rate with salted cod has not filled her with a lot of confidence.

But, that’s the thing. I’ve got to do, what I’ve got to do. This passion of mine has lead me down a path that forces me (and everyone around me) out of my culinary comfort zone. And so, when I was planning my latest foray in vintage Jamaican arcana and it included this recipe for “Run Down,” a Jamaican stew made out of salted cod, tomatoes, and coconut milk, nobodies expectations were very high. Surprisingly, however, this dish blew us all out of the water.

Elizabeth Ortiz lists this recipe in her “Appetizers” section to be accompanied with boiled mash green bananas. We ended up using it as a gravy to pour over some “Rice and Peas” as an accompaniment to pork and papaya sauce. All of the elements in the meal was quite sweet (including both a mango chutney and a papaya chutney) and we all found the ‘Run Down’ the perfect counter-point to balance the cloying sweetness of the other sauces. The briny profile of the salt fish actually grounded the meal as a whole and the rich coconut broth beautifully compliment the rice and peas.


1 lb salt cod
1/4 cup lime juice
3 cups coconut milk

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp finely chopped red hot pepper
1 lb tomato, peeled & chopped
1/4 tsp thyme
1 tbsp cane vinegar
Salt & Pepper


  1. Soak salted cod overnight, drain. Pour lime juice over fish and set aside.
  2. Heat coconut milk in pot, then add onions and garlic.
  3. Add: pepper, tomatoes, thyme, vinegar and seasoning. Simmer for ten minutes.
  4. Drain lime juice from fish and add the salted cod. Cook until tender.

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