A Taste Of The Caribbean

In our blog this month you learned how to bring the Caribbean to your backyard and how to create a Caribbean style kitchen. But the Caribbean islands are known for more than just lush tropical plants, and exotic, colorful interiors. Caribbean cuisine is influenced by the rich culture of the islands and includes a bounty of flavorful, vibrant ingredients. Fortunately, you don’t have to be master chef to take a culinary Caribbean adventure, and you don’t have to travel far to get a taste of the Islands. Most of the ingredients can be found at your local grocery store and most Caribbean meals are a breeze to make. Have a vacation in your kitchen with these tasty tropical dishes!

Jerk Chicken

Native to Jamaica, Jerk is a style of cooking that incorporates a hot and spicy mixture of spices to chicken (or pork). You can buy Jerk spices premixed and bottled in the spice section, and use it as a dry rub when grilling. Or make your own Jerk marinade using delicious ingredients like fresh garlic, Scotch bonnet or habanero chilies, grated nutmeg and ginger, ground cloves, black pepper, soy sauce and limes. You can find about a million recipes for Jerk Chicken online, but no matter which one you choose, pair it with Peas and Rice.

Peas And Rice

Islanders refer to kidney beans as peas, so start with a can of kidney beans and drain all the liquid. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine a can of coconut milk with a ¼ cup of water. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, a dash or two of ground allspice, and a clove of crushed garlic, and bring to a boil. Stir in a cup of Jasmine rice and the drained kidney beans, and reduce the temperature to low. Simmer covered for 20 minutes, then remove from heat and let your rice and beans cool slightly before serving.

Coconut Shrimp

Coconut trees line the shores of the Caribbean and you will often find coconut incorporated into favorite island recipes — but none more beloved than Coconut Shrimp! Start by heating a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, and add 2 cups of coconut oil. In a bowl, combine a cup of panko breadcrumbs with a cup of unsweetened shredded coconut. In a separate bowl, gently whisk together a cup of all-purpose flour with a ½ teaspoon of salt and a ½ teaspoon of pepper. In a third bowl, beat two eggs.

In a colander, rinse a pound of fresh or defrosted raw shrimp, peeled and deveined. Dredge your shrimp one at a time in the flour mixture. Next, dip your shrimp into the beaten eggs, and then into the bowl of coconut, pressing well to coat. Fry the shrimp for around two minutes on each side. Your shrimp should be evenly crispy and a golden color on the outside, firm to the touch, and white on the inside.

For a dipping sauce, whisk together ¼ cup of orange marmalade with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a dash of red pepper flakes. Heat in a small saucepan until warm, and serve on the side.

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