Caribbean cuisine displays influences from around the world. It is a blend of African, Amerindian, European, East Indian, Arab and Chinese influences. These traditions were adapted to reflect the local produce available on the islands, creating a unique style of cooking. While each island will have its particularities, they have many dishes in common. Travelbag has put together a guide of the most popular national Caribbean dishes. Compliment any of these delicious dishes with an authentic rum cocktail, of course made with the local rum, or refreshing coconut water straight from the fruit itself.
1. Jerk Chicken - Jamaica
Although you can find Jerk style cooking all over the Caribbean, it is native to Jamaica where meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. It is traditionally applied to pork and chicken but any meat or fish can be used. When the seasoning has done its flavouring, the meat will be cooked over an enormous smoky pile of pimento wood in an authentic drum barbecue. It is usually accompanied by rice & peas and fried dumplings.
2. Coucou & Flying Fish – Barbados
Barbados is well-known for the plentiful flying fish that can be found in its surrounding warm waters, so it is no wonder that this fish makes part of their national dish. The fish can be steamed, battered & fried or grilled. The Coucou is made from a blend of cornmeal, flour and okra seasoned with salt, pepper and Barbados' very own Hot Pepper Sauce. The dish is topped with an aromatic sauce of tomato, onion, chives, thyme, fresh pepper, garlic and other herbs, served with tropical vegetables or ground provisions.
3. Green banana and salt fish – St Lucia
Known as the “official” dish of St Lucia, this specialty can be found in just about every restaurant island-wide. The dish combines bananas which are either boiled or stewed, a leading island export, and locally sourced vegetables with salt cod fish to make this exquisite Caribbean delight. It is traditionally prepared as a breakfast meal but it is quite good for dinner as well. Try it at different restaurants, as each cook adds a signature twist to the dish.
4. Sancocho - Dominican Republic
Without a doubt the most cherished culinary tradition in the Dominican Republic is Sancocho. It is a dish usually prepared for special occasions but then the Dominicans don’t need much of an excuse for a celebration. The soupy stew is made with tropical vegetables and a variety of meats. In fact the ultimate Sancocho is considered to be made out of seven different meats. It takes time to cook but is definitely worth the wait!
5. Fungee & Pepperpot - Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda’s national delight offers a fiery alternative to the traditional meat stew. The Pepperpot is a combination of different of meats mixed with vegetables, spinach, eggplant, okra, onions, spices & seasonings, boiled to a soupy finish. As you would expect with a name like that it will traditionally be served very spicy. Fungee has nothing to do with mushrooms but is instead an accompaniment made of cornmeal and Okra, a bit like polenta in Europe.