CARIBBEAN - Summer 2022 (Jul-Sept) Cuisine of the Quarter

I used a new-to-me technique for these tostones. It is found in the book Puerto Rican Cookery by Carmen Valldejuli (which is the English version of the classic Cocina Criolla), and also in Sky Juice and Flying Fish by Jessica B. Harris. I did a hybrid of the two recipes. I seasoned the water with adobo seasoning, per Harris. The first soak comes immediately after the plantains are cut into chunks and is 10 minutes in Harris and 15 in Valldejuli. I did 10, iirc. The plantains are then dried off and fried as usual for the first fry, then pressed as usual. Then comes the second soak. In Harris this is a 5-minute soak, while in Valldejuli the pressed tostones come back out of the water immediately. Mine were in for about a minute. Then you dry them again, and do the second fry. The result of this extra bit of faffery was the best tostones I’ve ever eaten. I will never go back to my old method (the standard double fry with no soak). The interiors were lighter and fluffy, while the crust was delicate but perfectly crisp. I made the sauce from the Valldejuli book, which involves ketchup, and which I don’t intend to repeat.


I made the arroz con gandules from Charity Morgan’s book, Unbelievably Vegan (a book I recommend). To go with, I improved a creole chicken. It’s like what you might have with mofongo, and I’ll make it again to serve that way. I used the Daring “chicken” for the first time in a non-grilling application, and it worked wonderfully.


Macaroni Pie is found throughout the Caribbean.


I tried this recipe for Poul Nan Sos (Haitian Chicken in Sauce) tonight by Gregory Gourdet (who you may remember from Top Chef). You marinate chicken thighs and legs (I just used thighs) in salt and citrus (really rubbing the cut citrus onto the chicken) along with garlic, scotch bonnets, onion, and fresh thyme. A lot of fresh thyme. A whole 1/4 cup of fresh thyme leaves. Loved the flavor, but it was 30 minutes of picking thyme leaves, so, just a head’s up there. Then you marinate for 12-48 hours. Once marinated, brown the skin and make a stew of tomato paste, yellow and red peppers, all the solids from the marinade, the liquid from the marinade, chicken stock, and a little more salt (if you think it needs it). Let it braise in a 375F oven until the chicken falls off the bone.

This was wonderful! I would caution that the citrus juice makes the skin prone to darkening pretty quickly when browning, so be careful there. I also defatted the stew, removing about a half cup of oil, before serving. However, this will absolutely be a make again dish. We had this over a mushroom and pea rice pilaf. I am looking forward to the leftovers over the next couple nights!


Puerto Rican-ish dinner tonight. Arroz con gandules with a chuleta and some broccolini and tomato with dressing.

I used this recipe for the arroz con gandules more or less, though I only made a third and used a lot more sofrito, and also long grain rice instead of Uncle Ben’s.

For the chuleta I followed the baked version of this recipe, but I had to cook it a lot longer to get to 145 degrees. I did have a thick chop though.


While I was searching the Web to figure out what to serve the chicken with last night, I came across several recipes for something called Black Mushroom Rice - Diri Djon Djon or sometimes Diri ak Djon Djon. Djon Djon is a very specific kind of mushroom that is used either dried or in a bouillon form (Maggi apparently makes one). Has anyone ever used this mushroom before?

Looks like I can find it on Amazon. I might have some luck in a couple of the local bodegas too.


Really interested in hearing about this mushroom, if you find it and cook with it.

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This is all from a book called Caribbean Vegan by Taymer Mason. The author is from Barbados. I’ve had it for a while but hadn’t cooked from it. The big mound is cou-cou, which is a thick cornmeal mush with okra. You start by boiling the okra slices in salted water, and the water gets viscous with okra slime. You then pour off about half the water, and add cornmeal, stirring vigorously to remove lumps. You add in the extra okra water bit by bit as the cornmeal cooks. You then cook on low for a while. It’s shaped into a ball in a bowl, then you make an indentation on the top and cover with with a creole sauce. The “tofish” is tofu marinated with nori and Bajan seasoning, then pan-fried. It gets coated with a sauce of herbs and chiles that is finished with butter (vegan butter). There were a lot of components to this meal, but it was worth the effort. All of it was delicious, and we particularly liked the cou-cou.


I’ve enjoyed some vegan rotis from a vegetarian Jamaican restaurant in Toronto.

One Caribbean snack you might like is the fried channa. My friend used to bring it back from Trinidad. Spicier and saltier than the Canadian-made fried chickpeas.

I’d like to do some rotis, I just have to figure out how I’ll make them gluten-free. I’ll look for the chickpeas in my Trini books. I do like roasted spiced chickpeas, so I’d probably like those.

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One of my favorite restaurants after a day paddling on the lake was a Trini restaurant/bar. They had plenty of veggie offerings. There were, though, some things I couldn’t get because of the gluten issue. I have long wanted to figure out gluten-free doubles. Maybe I will manage it this quarter!


I’ll check my cookbooks, too.

There’s also a dish called Pholourie which is a deep fried yeasted fritter made of chickpea or lentil flour, probably with wheat flour, and served with tamarind sauce. I will find a recipe to check if it contains wheat flour. Very addictive.

Here is a gluten-free recipe I have not tried.

Thanks for that. I have recipes for pholourie, but they all have wheat flour. I will check this out.

The fulaurie / fuluri (pakodas) they’re derived from are almost always gram flour (besan) or soaked and ground dals, so it should easy to do GF.

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Here’s a recipe for the tamarind chutney .

The Bara in the double is a yeasted puri / bhatura - I made a lot of GF indian breads during the pandemic — puri, paratha, roti, etc.

Once you have a base dough that rolls without breaking, variations become easier. I liked rice flour with tapioca, or a mix of flours (cassava was a good addition).

It was pretty shocking that rotis puffed up just like normal, as did puris. The second-order challenge after rolling and puffing was texture.

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Adding links for a couple recipes

I’ve used other recipes by Natasha, who posts through her FB page

Was the cou-cou slimy at the end? Or was the okra water to help it bind?

Looks great!

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