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

If you want to go down a an okra-slimed rabbit hole, I recommend the book The Whole Okra: A Seed to Stem Celebration, by Chris Smith.

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Yeah, it doesn’t thrill me to call it slimy, either. On the other hand, I’ve never loved it when people use the word “silky”. I feel there must be a description from cultures that appreciate the quality, similar to the way QQ is pretty intuitive and yet hard to translate.

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That book is dope as hell.

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I came soooo close to using the word “silky” to describe the cou-cou! But it wasn’t quite right. Faintly slippery might be more appropriate.

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Okay, found a few pics of the GF flatbreads @MelMM (which is pathetic given how many of these bloody things I made that year!)


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Nice!

I was looking at Caribbean swordfish recipes and found this.

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Swordfish with a Caribbean inspired curry.




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I have that book. An oldie but goodie! Take a look at the phulouri recipe within.

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The driver behind this meal was the pholourie. I looked at a number of recipes, including some gluten-free adaptations, but mostly at originals. I learned that there are two ways of making pholourie (which is also spelled phulouri/phulorie and probably a dozen other ways). One way is by using a mix of split pea flour and wheat flour. Those recipes are heavy on the wheat flour, using far more of it than the split pea flour. One recipe had four times more wheat flour than split pea flour. Another way of making pholourie, however, doesn’t rely on wheat flour much or at all. It follows the method used for akara, acarajé, falafel, vada, and other legume-based fritters - a method I know well. You soak the peas overnight, then grind them into a batter with your seasonings, baking powder, etc, and maybe a tablespoon or two of wheat flour. And I know from experience making those other types of fritters that you can just swap that tiny bit of flour out for rice flour or pretty much any flour you want. So it made a lot more sense to me to go with the latter type. I used the recipe in Wendy Rahamut’s book Curry, Callaloo & Calypso. The only seasonings it calls for are garlic, saffron, salt, and a bit of lime juice. I added a bit of culantro and a little cumin. I also noticed in my investigations that the amount and types of seasonings varies widely. I used brown rice flour for the small amount of wheat flour called for. Once I decided to go with the soaked-pea method, there were no doubts about how they would turn out, because I’ve made so many similar things. We enjoyed these very much. I made a tamarind/date chutney to go with. Next time I would play around a little more with the seasonings and add-ins. Dunstan Harris, who also uses the soaked-pea method, calls for onion in his recipe (which calls for no flour at all, btw, thus is naturally gluten-free), and I think I would like to include it. I’m not sure I see any point in pursuing the other type of recipe that leans heavily on wheat flour.

I needed something to go with my pholourie, and since I had okra from my CSA box, I looked at okra recipes. I settled on one from the 2018 book Provisions, by Michelle & Suzanne Rousseau. You sauté onion, garlic, ginger, bell pepper, scotch bonnet, and thyme, then add okra and sauté it. This is done in two batches so the okra doesn’t steam. It’s a dry sauté. You then combine the two batches in the pan and add tomatoes and cilantro and cook that down a bit. More cilantro is added at the end of cooking, and the dish is finished with a bit of lime juice, and garnished with unsweetened coconut flakes and still more cilantro. This was delicious and I would happily make it again as written. My only adaptation was that I used sungold and grape tomatoes because I have them coming out my ears. The recipe calls for plum tomatoes. The rice served alongside was just leftover rice from a previous meal. Nothing special.

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The djondjon mushrooms have arrived!


They have a very intense, rich mushroom scent, like porcini and shiitakes, but with an almost chocolatey note. I am very excited to work with these!

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EPIS

This is very similar to a sofrito, but skews Creole in nature (bell peppers, onion, celery, garlic, along with herbs (parsley and cilantro) and lime).

Here’s how mine looks right now. I am going to use some for the Haitian Black Mushroom Rice dish tonight and then divide and freeze what doesn’t get used.

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BUSS-UP SHUT / PARATHA ROTI & CHANNA

Classic Trini combo. (Also classic Indian, but I ignored that part of my brain so I could cook something Caribbean!)

The buss-up shut / paratha roti uses a simple dough of AP flour and water (some recipes use baking powder). Generous amounts of fats are used when preparing - the dough is rolled out, layered with plenty of ghee or butter, rolled up again, and then griddled with more ghee / butter / oil. It’s pushed together towards the end of cooking to try to separate layers, or then wrapped in cloth and beaten with the rolling pin to do the same after.

I have plenty of paratha experience, so the difference for me here was in working dough made with AP flour (“maida”) vs chapati flour (very finely milled WW) – AP is very stretchy and so harder to roll out, and also usually results in a drier end product (probably the reason there’s so much fat, but also baking powder).

The cooking technique of breaking up the layers on the griddle or right after - but before serving - was also interesting, because it went against my usual instincts of an intact paratha (which you enjoy peeling apart layer by layer on your plate).

My breads were much smaller than the shop version, or many blogs, because my tava is smaller (well technically I used a carbon steel crepe pan, today, but still).

The channa was pretty typical – I didn’t use curry powder because I have all the individual ingredients. Base of onions, ginger, garlic, various spices in place of curry powder, and cilantro, plus the chickpeas, pressure cooked till tender and the flavors melded.

I included a bunch of pics of the process as a gallery - if you look at the uncooked, rolled version, the layers are actually visible. (I may have rolled too thin out of habit - for the buss-up version of a paratha, a bit thicker might be easier for separation.)

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“Bussed up”

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I’ve been watching videos of the process in anticipation of trying a version in the near future. From what I’ve seen, they roll it extremely thin, so I don’t think you went too thin at all.

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There’s thin and then there’s thin… My usual (triangular) parathas separate into 3 very thin layers. These were flaking too thin even for me.

The second was a bit better than the first, but if there had been more dough I would have rolled a litte less, so the cooked layers would have had a bit more body.

There’s also size to consider - when you’re rolling to the size these typically are, you actually can’t get too thin because the dough springs back. When they’re smaller as mine were, you can apply more force to get them thinner.

Malabar parottas are a good comparison. They’re always a bit thicker so that the layers don’t get too papery and have body to hold the curry.

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Looks fantastic!

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I had to do jerk something at some point, so last night I made jerk kebabs. I used the jerk marinade from Jerk: Barbecue from Jamaica, by Hellen Willinsky. I make it as written, with the exception of using a small amount of Carolina reaper paste instead of the single chile called for. It takes very little of that paste to get a very hot marinade, but I love the flavor (yes, the flavor) of the reaper. I’ve used this marinade in the past on soy curls and other meat substitutes to good effect. Last night I decided to try it with the Daring chicken that I’ve been playing with this summer. The Daring chicken pieces were thawed in the marinade in a ziploc, then skewered (I alternated some grape tomatoes in there because I need to keep up with what’s coming out of the garden and CSA box), and they went on the grill. These were delightfully spicy and smoky from the grill.

I served with some leftover okra with scotch bonnet and coconut, which is described upthread. While the texture became very soft upon reheating, the flavor actually improved, as the coconut was coming through more. A fresh batch of rice on the side.

Here’s a link to the Amazon previewfor a newer edition of the Jerk book. I have the old 1990 edition, but the recipe is the same, and you can see it in the book preview if you scroll.

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I heated up some leftover arroz con gandules for dinner, with veg and fried maduros (ripe plantain) with a little sour cream.

Also applied a little bit of pique that I started making last week. Recipe: https://www.chilipeppermadness.com/chili-pepper-recipes/hot-sauces/pique-puerto-rican-hot-sauce/

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Sunday market in Ubud, Indonesia
Credit: Roozbeh Rokni, Flickr