HARLEM, Manhattan - A rum hall restaurant in Harlem is serving up Caribbean flavors with a side of history.
Solomon and Kuff is based on the life of an 18th Century slave who was sold for four gallons of rum. Venture Smith eventually bought his way to freedom and became a successful entrepreneur, and his two sons were named Solomon and Kuff.
The restaurant is at 2331 12th Avenue, and while it's down the street from the Hudson River, it's really channeling the Caribbean.
One of the owners, Karl Franz Williams, has Caribbean roots, as does the chef Christopher Faulkner. Julie Grunberger, the other owner, liked the idea of creating a restaurant that serves the Caribbean population of the New York area while offering something alluring to others.
"There's a huge Caribbean population in the Tri-State, but other people are coming in and saying, 'Wow, we've never had this,'" she said. "Because we really have taken it to the next level."
The specialty drinks are rum based, and the menu includes peppered prawns, a goat sampler, jerk eggplant, yucca fries and oxtail.
For the peppered prawns, Faulkner sautes the shrimp and cockles in annatto seed oil and sets them aside. In the same pan, vegetables are simmered along with wine and seafood stock. The seafood is returned to the pan with pepper jam and a little hot sauce before it's plated on a crispy crouton.
Here is the full recipe for peppered prawns:
--3x3inch cube of sourdough bread
--extra virgin olive oil
--annatto seed oil (annatto seeds that have been steeped in warmed vegetable oil for its flavor and color)
--1 garlic clove
--Head on prawns, 7-10 per pound
--2 oz shrimp, cleaned and cut length ways
--5-6 cockles or little neck clams
--2 oz S&K Pepper Jam (Romesco sauce or harissa paste are good subs)
--Shaved pot vegetables 1 oz each of:
- Baby Turnips
--4oz white wine
--6 oz clam juice
--6 oz shrimp or fish stock
--1 Tbsp finely grated ginger
--3 basil leaves
--A dash of your favorite hot sauce
--Salt and Pepper
--Toast crouton in a pan with olive oil on all sides in the oven at 375. Once crispy on all sides, grate the garlic clove, all sides, and set aside.
--Chop garlic, scallion and parsley. Mix with a little annatto seed oil, a touch of salt and pepper. Allow to marinate at least for a few hours.
--In a shallow pot that has a lid, briefly saute prawns in some annatto oil on both sides on a medium heat. Quickly saute shrimp curls in same pot and remove shrimp and prawns.
--Add cockles/clams and ginger into pot and de-glaze with wine. Cook out wine until mostly dry. If cockles have not completely opened, add clam juice and seafood stock (If clams do not open, discard). Once they are opened, remove and set aside with shrimp.
--Add vegetables and bring to a simmer. Stir in pepper jam (Romesco sauce or harissa paste), bring back to a simmer and add shrimp curls, clams, herbs and a good shot of your favorite hot sauce.
--Give sauce final seasoning adjustments and pour into bowl.
--Put Crouton in a medium sized pasta bowl and mount shrimp on top.
--Garnish with some of the fennel leaves for a finishing touch
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