The Taste of Paradise - Caribbean Cooking

The Taste of Paradise - Caribbean Cooking

As dark evenings draw in and those long summer nights become a distant memory, escaping the winter blues can seem impossible – but you can bring the sunshine back into your life if you know how.

Many of us dream of escaping to an all-inclusive Jamaican resort in the Caribbean during winter months; what could be better than kicking back on a white sandy beachs of Jamaica, Barbados and Turks & Caicos. Enjoying the warmth of the sun, cooling off in crystal-clear turquoise waters and enjoying spicy Caribbean food? Work and budget constraints often mean this isn’t possible, but there is a way to get a taste of paradise from your own home…

Caribbean cooking is packed full of unique flavours, fresh fruits, vegetables and a wonderfully intoxicating blend of spices. If you could taste sunshine, it would probably taste like this. The delicious, smoky taste of barbecued food is a customary way of cooking in the Caribbean, and the word ‘barbecue’ comes from ‘barbacoa’, the name of the cooking grate where food was traditionally cooked over a bed of coals.

Influenced by African, Indian and European cuisines, staple ingredients of Caribbean cooking are evocative of its tropical climate; mangoes, sweet potato, plantain, ginger, lime, chillies, figs, dates and coconuts are eaten daily in the Caribbean, and their health-boosting and cold-busting benefits cannot be overstated during winter time! Caribbean cooking is generally not too complex, and below I have compiled two of my favourite Caribbean recipes.

Jerked Meat with Plantain and Rice

You can’t look at Caribbean cooking without featuring arguably its most famous flavour; jerk seasoning.

The flavour comes from slow cooking meat seasoned with a blend of spices over hot coals, and this distinctive taste immediately conjures up images of blue skies and hot sun, transporting you to an exotic climate with a single bite. Jerk seasoning is available in most supermarkets and can be used very flexibly.

Traditionally used with pork and goat, it complements most meat and fish, and vegetarians don’t have to miss out as it tastes delicious with tofu too.

  1. Mix up some jerk seasoning, soy sauce, honey and either ketchup or barbecue sauce
  2. Make several incisions with a knife along the meat and then coat it with half the seasoning
  3. Roast the meat for 25 minutes, moving the baking tray to the top shelf for the last 5 minutes 
  4. While the meat is cooking, cut the plantain into 2cm thick slices and fry in butter and oil for 4-5 minutes each side until golden brown. Then drain off the excess oil on kitchen paper.
  5. Serve the plantain along with the meat, maybe with some rice, peas and beans on the side for that extra dash of Caribbean authenticity.

 

Image courtesy of phunkstarr

Grilled Corn Salad with Spicy Cheddar Dressing

Few foods are more suggestive of warm weather than the sunshine-coloured corn on the cob, another basic ingredient of Caribbean cooking. Lighter than many other traditional dishes, this fantastic grilled corn salad is a treat for the taste buds and its fresh, spicy dressing will help chase away any winter bugs.

 

Image courtesy of Caribbean Pot

  1. Brush your corn with oil and place on a hot grill, then add a few peppers (red and yellow work best) without brushing them with oil
  2. Grate some cheddar cheese and chop up some garlic and chilli pepper – you can adapt the amounts of both ingredients to your preference
  3. Add some olive oil, salt and pepper and bend until you get a smooth consistency
  4. As soon as the peppers and corn are nicely chargrilled, remove from heat
  5. Once cool enough to handle, remove the skins from the pepper and chop them into small pieces
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut the corn kernels off the hob and mix with the peppers
  7. Add some chopped, fresh spring onion and then mix in your dressing. The salad tastes like summer in a bowl and is delicious served both hot and cold.

Anna Campbell is a writer and travel blogger. 

 

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