How to Make Five Famous Caribbean Cuisines

Those who have sampled Caribbean cuisine can certainly attest to the tastiness wrought from the incredible range of cultural flavor fusions. Influences in the region’s food comes from African, Creole, Cajun, Amerindian, European, Portuguese, Spanish, Latin, East Indian, South Asian, Arab, Chinese, Jewish, and Indonesian inhabitants throughout history.

When visiting this area of the world, there are a few must-taste treats to devour. And, if you’re looking to recreate some of the delicious dishes back at home, here are a few key recipes to get the ball rolling.  

Pinto Gallo

Better known to English speakers as rice and beans, this side dish is an absolute staple with any Caribbean-style meal.

To prepare this at home you’ll need:

    • 1 lb. red kidney beans
    • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • ½ tsp. black pepper
    • ½ tsp. thyme
    • 2 lbs. cleaned rice
    • 1 medium onion (sliced)
    • 6-8 cups of water

** (optional) 1 small pigtail, salt beef, or pieces of bacon

Directions:

  1. Wash, then soak beans for four hours, using the 6-8 cups of water. If using distilled water, beans need only two hours to soften.
  2. Boil beans until tender with garlic, onion, and pig’s tail/salted beef/bacon.
  3. Season beans with black pepper, thyme, and salt to taste.
  4. Add coconut milk, stir, then bring to a boil.
  5. Add rice to seasoned beans. Stir, then cover.
  6. Cook on low heat until coconut milk and water are absorbed and rice is tender.

**Recipe courtesy of Belize.com

Fry Jacks

These fried tortilla-style treats are one of the region’s most popular breakfast accompaniments, and are often served with eggs, refried beans, jam, or golden honey.

What you’ll need:

    • 3 cups flour
    • 3 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. vegetable oil or shortening (for the dough)
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 cups vegetable oil (for the cooking)

Directions:

  1. Place flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Cut in shortening or oil until texture becomes doughy.
  3. Knead while adding little bits of water at a time in order to remove all clumps and create a smoothly-textured dough.
  4. Separate the dough in half and let stand for about 15 minutes. 
  5. In the meantime, put oil in the frying pan and heat to medium temperature.
  6. Next, divide the dough into ten medium-sized balls and flatten them into a circle.
  7. Cut each circle in half.
  8. Place dough in the frying pan and cook until it turns golden brown. Repeat on opposite side.

**Recipe courtesy of sanignaciobelize.com

Conch Fritters

The shellfish conch is a popular seafood item during its season in the Caribbean. It can be prepared in many ways, but fresh fritters are a cultural delicacy not to be missed – not to mention a delicious way to introduce yourself to the dish.

Ingredients you’ll need:

    • 1 and a ½  lbs. conch, shelled
    • 1 onion, grated
    • 1 carrot, grated
    • 5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 small bunch thyme, stemmed and chopped finely
    • 1/2 Scotch bonnet pepper, chopped finely
    • 1 small bunch mint, stemmed and chopped finely
    • 3 eggs
    • 3/4 cups  all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup breadcrumbs
    • 1 oz.  baking powder
    • salt
    • oil

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, mix together the conch and all vegetables.
  2. Add eggs and dry ingredients.
  3. Form into roughly 1½ inch balls.
  4. Fill a deep pot about 1/3 full with oil and heat to 350 degrees.
  5. Add conch fritters in batches and deep-fry until golden brown.
  6. Drain on paper towels.

**Recipe courtesy of thedailymeal.com

Pupusas

One of the Caribbean’s most famous street foods, no culinary exploration of the area is complete without tasting a variety or two of the popular pupusa.

Ingredients to gather:

  • masa dough
  • refried beans
  • 2 cups shredded queso Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese
  • vegetable oil
  • hot sauce and lime wedges, for serving (optional)

Directions:

    1. Using wet hands, roll masa dough into golf-ball-sized balls.
    2. Place balls on a baking sheet and cover with a moist towel.
    3. Working with one ball at a time, use your thumb to press a deep indent into the ball, then use your hands to work it into a small “bowl” with a 1/4-inch-thick edge.
    4. Place approximately one tablespoon of refried beans into the bottom of the “bowl,” then top with a heaping tablespoon of shredded cheese.
    5. Using moist fingers, carefully bring dough edge together, enclosing the filling within, and press to seal.
    6. Roll the ball in your hands to return it to a uniform ball shape, then carefully pat pupusa down into a flat round about four inches wide and about 3/4 of an inch thick (if edges crack, run a wet finger around them to smooth over).
    7. Place pupusas on a baking sheet and keep covered with a towel as you work.
    8. Lightly coat a large cast iron skillet with oil and warm over medium heat until simmering.
    9. Working in batches, add pupusas and fry, turning once, until well-browned and crisp. About four minutes per side.
    10. Drain pupusas on a paper towel-lined plate before serving.

**Recipe courtesy of seriouseats.com

Ceviche

Ceviche can be made with your favorite fresh seafood, from fish and shrimp to conch and octopus… or possibly all of the above.

What you’ll need:

  • ½ lb. of your favorite seafood
  • 2 cups diced ripe tomatoes
  • 1  large onion diced
  • 1 bunch cilantro chopped
  • 1 habanero pepper minced
  • 5 limes, juiced
  • Salt

Directions:

  1. Chop seafood and allow to marinate in lime juice for approximately 20 minutes. **If freshness is questionable, be sure to flash boil first.
  2. Mix diced tomatoes and onion, chopped cilantro, and minced habanero to create salsa.
  3. Combine the salsa, seafood, and lime juice.
  4. Salt to taste, and serve with tortilla chips.

**Recipe courtesy of belizenewspot.com