The delicacies of Caribbean cuisine are the result of a historical and cultural mix. Over the years, the evolution of this cuisine still holds true to its African, Arab and European roots, especially Spain, which left a rich culinary heritage in its passing through these lands.
The Caribbean is synonymous with vivid colors, music and indescribable aromas. The variety of exotic fruits and extensive marine life in this land make its cuisine unique and varied. Here are five exquisite dishes that will transport you to the heart of the Caribbean:
A staple of Caribbean cuisine, sancocho is a hearty stew that varies depending on the region. This dish is prepared with a mix of beef, pork, chicken or fish, and vegetables endemic to the region including green plantain, yucca, potatoes and corn. Nothing like a steamy bowl of sancocho on a rainy day! Best served with white rice and slices of avocado.
A product of the migratory nature of Caribbean communities, this delicacy can be found in the cuisine of several countries in the region. Hallacas are rectangular shaped tamales made with corn flour and filled with a stew of beef, pork or chicken. Part of its distinctive flavor comes from the banana leaves they wrapped with. But be warned… once you unwrap, you can’t stop.
Plantains are one of the most widely used foods in the Dominican Republic, and this dish exemplifies the simplicity and deliciousness of this ingredient. To make mangú, green plantains are boiled in salted water and then pureed with a dash of oil and topped with sautéed red onions. To take a humble mangú to the next level, serve with a fried egg, fried cheese and fried salami, a combination known as “Los Tres Golpes” (the three hits). You’ll get the name when you taste its punchy flavor!
Undoubtedly one of the most popular dishes across cities and in the coast of Panamá, Guacho Panameño is a rice stew traditionally served in a clay pot. There are many variations including chicken, beef or pork, but the version with seafood and coconut is uniquely delicious. Tempted yet?
A traditional breakfast in Central American countries like Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Gallo Pinto is a sumptuous dish of rice and beans, fried sweet plantain and meat, best served with a fried egg and slices of avocado. Savory, sweet, rich, creamy, this dish has it all.
by Alex Tabar & Jose V. Arcieri