Traditional Caribbean dishes are a blend of different styles of cooking.
The Caribbean area is a place where several cultures meet and melded to become something different, each culture has combined its own flavor to the pot and therefore the foods of the Caribbean are a blend of many nationalities.
You will find a touch of English, Spanish, Dutch, Asian, French, and American in the dishes of the Caribbean.
These traditions were brought from the many homelands of this region’s population. In addition, the natives have created styles that are unique to the region. Traditional dishes are so important to every regional culture.
Here are some of the popular local Caribbean dishes.
Callaloo is the name used in the Caribbean to refer to the green leafy vegetable – spinach. Callaloo is also the name of a very famous soup-like stew made in Trinidad and Tobago.
Most countries in the Caribbean have their own versions of Callaloo. While for many countries, Callaloo is a type of soup, the soup varies from one country to the next.
In a large country such as Guyana, Callaloo gets complicated because the country boasts a variety of spinach though collectively they are referred to as callaloo.
Curried Goat Many restaurants use the strong-flavored meat of a mature goat. Better restaurants whether expensive or mid-priced use the tender and subtly flavored meat of the young animal.
Goat is a favorite meat in much of the Caribbean, and in Jamaica, curry goat is the favorite way to cook it.
Full of flavor, this aromatic stew was originally a must-have dish at large gatherings, parties, and other celebrations. These days, Jamaicans cook it at home more and more often.
Pelau Pelau is known by a variety of names throughout the Caribbean, fowl dung, fried rice, pelaf, cook-up rice, arroz con pollo, and more. Pelau or “Cook up” is a stew from Trinidad made with either beef or chicken.
The unique flavor comes from searing the meat in caramelized sugar then simmering with rice, coconut milk, and pigeon peas. Serve accompanied by slices of tomato, avocadoes, or cucumber.
Ackee and Saltfish Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and one of the main ingredients in the national dish, Ackee and saltfish.
Fresh ackee, if prepared improperly, can be toxic, but there is nothing to worry about when it comes from a can, that is available in the supermarkets. To make the national dish of Jamaica, you will need saltfish, ackee, a hot pepper, onion, tomato, and spices. The fish is sautéed with all of the vegetables and spices while the ackee boils.
The fruit is added last and the entire concoction is heated thoroughly, and then it’s ready to be gobbled down.
Since the dish is a bit on the spicy side, roast breadfruit can complement it nicely.
Jerk pork or jerk chicken is a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture. Jerk seasoning is traditionally applied to pork and chicken.
The meat is left for days or longer in an assertive herb-and-spice marinade (lots of chilies). A deep, complex food flavor develops. The meat is usually grilled.
By Louise Bloom