Szechuan peppercorns are a spice produced from the husks of seeds of two species of the prickly ash shrub. Szechuan peppercorns can be used whole or ground into powder. The spice is one of the five ingredients that comprise five-spice powder (the others are star anise, fennel, clove, and cinnamon), and it’s used in many savory Szechuan dishes. Check the peppercorns and discard any twigs, leaves, and any tiny black seeds in the package. Then heat the peppercorns in a frying pan over medium-low heat until they become fragrant. Remove them from the heat and grind them or crush them when cool. The roasted peppercorns can also be saved in an airtight jar to grind when needed in a recipe.
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch, divided
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon crushed Szechuan Peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
4 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup Szechuan sauce (store-bought or homemade- see recipe below)
2 cups shredded napa (Chinese) cabbage
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
2 scallions, sliced
Chinese noodles or rice for serving
Reconstitute mushrooms with boiling water to cover. Drain and slice.
Gently mix beef, onion, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, five-spice powder and salt in a medium bowl until combined. Shape the mixture into 15 meatballs (use about 2 tablespoons each to make 1½-inch meatballs).
Whisk broth and the remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet or nonstick wok over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning once, until brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate.
Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the pan. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring for 15 to 30 seconds. Add the reserved beef broth mixture, ginger. Szechuan sauce, cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, and mushrooms; cook, stirring, until the cabbage is just wilted, about 2 minutes.
Reduce heat to a simmer, return the meatballs to the pan, cover and cook until the sauce is thickened and the meatballs are cooked through 8 to 10 minutes. Serve sprinkled with scallions over noodles or rice.
Keeps for 10 days in the refrigerator
1/2 teaspoon Szechuan Peppercorns (or substitute black peppercorns)
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, brown sugar or sugar alternative
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing)
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely minced ( or use ginger paste)
1 tablespoon garlic chili paste (like sambal oelek)
1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
2 teaspoons cornstarch, to thicken
Toast Szechuan peppercorns in a hot dry skillet over medium heat, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Crush.
Place all ingredients in a medium bowl or small jar and whisk until well combined.
Whisk in 2 teaspoons cornstarch.
Makes a little over ½ a cup.
Steak Au Poivre
2 petite rib-eye steaks, 14-16 oz total
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 minced shallot
2 thyme sprigs
1 medium clove garlic, cut in half
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef broth
¼ cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Lightly pound the steaks with a meat mallet to an even thickness, ½ inch thick.
Season steaks all over with kosher salt. Set on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and allow to air-dry, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Crack peppercorns into rough halves and quarters. You can use a pepper mill set to its coarsest setting (though not all pepper mills will crack coarsely enough); or, perhaps best, a large mallet, meat pounder, or skillet to crush them (wrap the peppercorns in a clean kitchen towel first to contain them).
Spread cracked peppercorns and firmly press one side of each steak into the pepper to encrust it in an even layer. Set each steak aside, peppercorn side up. Reserve any remaining cracked peppercorns. (Exactly how much pepper adheres will depend on the dimensions of the steaks. You should have some pepper remaining, but if not, you can crack more to completely coat one side of each steak.)
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add steaks, peppercorn side down, and cook until peppercorns are well toasted about 3 minutes. Carefully turn steaks, trying not to break the peppercorn crust. Add butter, thyme, and garlic and cook, basting steaks with a spoon, until steaks are well seared on the second side. Remove from heat and place the steaks on serving plates.
Discard garlic and thyme. Add butter, shallot and any reserved cracked peppercorns, return to medium heat and cook, stirring until shallot is tender about 2 minutes.
Add broth and bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping up any browned bits. Whisk in cream, then simmer, stirring often, until the sauce has reduced enough to glaze a spoon. Whisk in mustard. Pour the sauce over the steaks and serve.
Oven Roasted Potatoes
3 pounds small yellow potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 400° F (200°C).
Cut the potatoes in half and put them in a bowl. Toss with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper until evenly coated.
Transfer to a large enough sheet pan or baking dish and spread out the potatoes in one layer, cut side down.
Take them out of the oven and toss with parsley before serving.
Green Beans With Mushrooms And Almonds
1pound trimmed green beans
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 whole scallion, thinly sliced white and green parts
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds
Blanch green beans for 5 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain and dry on a clean kitchen towel.
Place a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and unsalted butter. Add mushrooms and saute until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add sliced scallions, saute 1 minute more. Add green beans and season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan to a serving bowl and finish with 1/2 cup toasted almonds. Toss and serve.
Vietnamese Americans are the fourth-largest Asian American ethnic group after Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans, and Indian Americans, and have developed distinctive characteristics in the United States.
South Vietnamese immigration to the United States began after the Vietnam War ended in 1975. Early immigrants were refugee boat people, fleeing persecution or seeking economic opportunities. More than half of Vietnamese Americans reside in the states of California and Texas. Other states with concentrations of Vietnamese Americans were Washington, Florida (four percent each) and Virginia (three percent). According.to the 2012 American Community Survey (ACS), 76 percent of foreign-born Vietnamese are naturalized U.S. citizens.
The April 30, 1975 fall of Saigon, which ended the Vietnam War, prompted the first large-scale wave of immigration; many with close ties to America or the South Vietnam government feared communist reprisals. Most of the first-wave immigrants were well-educated, financially comfortable, and proficient in English. Although Vietnamese immigration has continued at a fairly steady pace since the 1980s, the pathway to immigration for Vietnamese today has shifted entirely. As opposed to the earlier history of Vietnamese migration that stemmed predominantly from refugees, an overwhelming majority of Vietnamese are now granted lawful permanent residence (LPR) on the basis of family-sponsored preferences or by way of relatives who are U.S. citizens, at 53% and 44% respectively.
Many Vietnamese Americans are small business owners. According to a 2002 Census Bureau survey of Vietnamese-owned firms, more than 50 percent of the businesses are personal services or repair and maintenance. The period from 1997 to 2002 saw substantial growth in the number of Vietnamese-owned business. Throughout the country, many Vietnamese (especially first or second-generation immigrants) have opened supermarkets, restaurants, bánh mì bakeries, beauty salons, barbershops, and auto-repair businesses. Restaurants owned by Vietnamese Americans tend to serve Vietnamese cuisine, Vietnamized Chinese cuisine or both and have popularized phở and chả giò in the U.S.
While adapting to a new country, Vietnamese Americans have tried to preserve their traditional culture by teaching their children the Vietnamese language, wearing traditional dress (áo dài) for special occasions and showcasing their cuisine in restaurants throughout the country. Family loyalty is the most important Vietnamese cultural characteristic, and more than two generations traditionally lived under one roof. The Vietnamese view family as including maternal and paternal grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. In adapting to American culture, most Vietnamese American families have adopted the nuclear pattern while trying to maintain close ties with their extended families.
Erica J. Peters, director of the Culinary Historians of Northern California and author of “Appetites and Aspirations in Vietnam: Food and Drink in the Long Nineteenth Century,” says, “The immigrant story is that you miss the foods from your home country when they’re not available and you talk to each other a lot about, ‘Well, how can we make do? How can we recreate some of the flavors of what we had there?’
So, Houston, Orange County, CA and New Orleans became huge hubs for Vietnamese families. The matriarchs were all great cooks and their children had high standards when it came to Vietnamese food. So when they went out to eat in a restaurant, they wanted to have that similar taste or better; otherwise, they wouldn’t eat there.
Common ingredients in Vietnamese cuisine include fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, bean sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruit, and vegetables. French cuisine has also had a major influence due to the French colonization of Vietnam. Vietnamese recipes use lemongrass, ginger, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander, Saigon cinnamon, bird’s eye chili, lime, and Thai basil leaves. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of dairy and oil, complementary textures, and reliance on herbs and vegetables. Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide
So what dishes did Vietnamese restaurant owners bring to the U.S. with them?
To mention just a few classics:
Pho is a simple staple consisting of a salty broth, fresh rice noodles, a sprinkling of herbs and chicken or beef.
Banh xeo is a crispy crepe bulging with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, plus the garnish of fresh herbs that are characteristic of most authentic Vietnamese dishes.
Cao lau is a pork noodle dish from Hoi An that is a bit like the various cultures that visited the trading port at its prime. The thicker noodles are similar to Japanese udon, the crispy won-ton crackers and pork are a Chinese touch, while the broth and herbs are clearly Vietnamese.
Nem ran/cha gio
Vietnam’s bite-sized crunchy spring rolls might not enjoy the same popularity as their healthier fresh equivalent, but they deserve a special mention. The crispy shell with a soft veggie and meat filling dunked in a tangy sauce.
Most Vietnamese dishes are actually really easy to make at home.
Nem ran/cha gio are crunchy spring rolls with a soft veggie and meat filling dunked in a tangy sauce.
Bun bo nam bo is a bowl of noodles without broth, tender slices of beef mingle, crunchy peanuts, bean sprouts that are flavored with fresh herbs, crisp dried shallots, a splash of fish sauce and fiery chili pepper.
Xoi is a bowl of savory sticky rice. Rice is less of an accompaniment to meals in Vietnam and more of a meal itself. The dish comes with any number of mix-ins (from slithers of chicken, or pork to fried or preserved eggs), and always with a scattering of dried shallots on top.
Banh mi Sandwich. The French may have brought with them the baguette, but Vietnam takes it to a different level by adding a combination of cheese, cold cuts, pickled vegetables, sausage, fried egg, fresh cilantro, and chili sauce.
Bbánh flan – a coconut and galangal crème caramel flan
Make this Vietnamese Dinner at home.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
1 cup shredded cooked pork
1/2 cup dried Asian mushrooms (rehydrate in water for 30 minutes or until softened then finely mince)
1/2 cup cellophane rice noodles rehydrated in water for 30 minutes or until softened then into 2-inch lengths)
1 green onion (trim off ends and slice thinly)
1/2 small white/yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
6 Spring Roll Rice Wrappers
Warm water to rehydrate the wrappers
Vegetable oil for frying
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Mam Cham), recipe below
In a medium-size bowl, mix together the pork, mushrooms, cellophane noodles, green onions, white/yellow onion, sugar, black pepper, salt and oyster sauce. Set aside.
The dried rice paper wrapper needs to be softened before wrapping. To do this, fill a shallow bowl with warm tap water Take one rice paper wrapper and immerse it completely in the water. Make sure that the wrapper is completely wet. Wait about 30 seconds for the wrapper to soften. It will turn malleable and start to feel sticky and that’s ok.
Put the wet wrapper on a kitchen towel or large empty plate or cutting board. Place 2 tablespoons of filling about 1 inch from the edge of the wrapper, on the side closest to you. Press the filling together.
First, fold the edge of the wrapper closest to you so that it covers the filling. Make sure that this first fold completely covers the filling, and pull the edge of the fold slightly under the filling making a taut, small parcel.
Using both your hands, fold the right side of the wrapper toward the center, stopping where the filling is. Do the same with the other side–fold the left side of the wrapper toward the center, stopping where the filling is.
Continue folding the wrapper by grabbing the enclosed filling and turning it over until it reaches the end of the wrapper. Check all sides to make sure there are no loose ends on the wrapper. This ensures the filling won’t escape when frying.
If you’re not going to fry the spring rolls right away, line them all up on a plate and cover with plastic wrap so that they do not dry up. Make sure that the spring rolls do not touch each other, as they can be a bit sticky and may tear if you need to pull them apart. If not frying right away cover the rolls with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Alternatively, you may freeze the wrapped spring rolls to be cooked at another time.
To bake the rolls
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Make the spring rolls: Pierce each roll with a skewer in a few places to prevent bursting.
Place a rack in a baking dish and brush with vegetable oil. Mix 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil; lightly brush on rolls. Place the rolls on the rack; bake until golden on top, about 15 minutes. Turn the rolls; bake until golden and crisp, 8 to 10 more minutes.
Serve with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce.
Nuoc Cham Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
Nuoc Cham is a must at every Vietnamese table, no matter what is served. You can use this condiment for dipping meat, seafood and vegetables, and for drizzling on rice. Although it will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator, Nuoc Cham is best when freshly made.
3 Thai bird chiles, or 1 serrano chile
1 garlic clove, sliced
3 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 tablespoons fish sauce, such as Red Boat
2 tablespoons finely shredded carrots for garnish
Cut the chiles into thin rings and cut each in half. Place all the ingredients except the carrots in a small serving bowl. Stir well and set aside for at least10 minutes before using. Sprinkle carrots on top before serving.
Yield 1 cup.
Lemongrass Beef And Shrimp Skewers
1 pound top sirloin, strip or ribeye steak
1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails intact
Skewers – metal or wooden soaked in warm water
1/3 cup minced fresh lemongrass, white part only
1/4 cup minced shallot
1 red chili pepper, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Finely chopped scallions
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
Rice Noodles with herbs, recipe below
Directions for the skewers
Slice the steak into small thin pieces approximately 3/4″ square and 1/4″ thick.
Combine all the ingredients for the Marinade. Add the marinade to the meat and mix well. Marinate for at least 1 hour. Insert the meat through the skewers.
Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and add to the Marinade with the beef cubes. Stir to combine well and marinate for 15 minutes. Thread shrimp onto the skewers.
Heat a stovetop grill. Grill the meat for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until desired tenderness. Grill the shrimp on both sides until they are charred and cooked through.
Place the skewers on a lettuce-lined serving platter. Place the noodle mixture in the center, the skewers on the one side of the plate and spring rolls on the other side.. Garnish the Skewers with bits of scallion and serve with the dipping sauce.
Rice Noodles With Fresh Herbs
3 oz dried rice noodles
3//4 cup fresh bean sprouts
1/3 cucumber, cut in matchstick strips
1/3 cup mint leaves, cut into thirds
1/3 cup Asian basil leaves, cut into thirds
Pour boiling water over the noodles to cover. and stir gently to loosen. Set aside for 30 minutes.. Drain and let noodles sit until dry and sticky about 30 minutes
Gently toss together the bean sprouts, cucumbers, mint, and basil leaves in a mixing bowl. Add the sticky noodles and toss. Add a little salt and pepper.
Place the noodles in the center of the lettuce-lined serving platter and serve with the skewers and spring rolls. Serve the dipping sauce on the side.
This method I learned for cooking thick pork chops and put into practice makes delicious tender and juicy thick cut pork chops.
Make a simple brine:
I adapted a recipe from The Great Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells.
The recipe makes enough for 4 regular pork chops or 2 thick ribeye chops.
4 cups ice-cold water
1/4 cup Diamond Crystal Kosher salt
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Stir together the water, salt, and sugar until dissolved. Place pork chops in a zipper-lock bag. Pour in the brine and seal the bag. Place the bag in a bowl in case it leaks and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours, depending on the thickness of the chops. Remove the chops, discard the brine, and pat the chops dry. Proceed with the recipe, or wrap the chops in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook, up to 2 days.
Ribeye Pork Chops
4 servings: One 16 oz chop was enough for my husband and me for one dinner. I made both with the recipe below and saved the other for a second dinner. See below.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 thick bone-in pork ribeye chops (2 ribs on each chop; 16 oz ounces each), brined
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Freshly ground pepper
8 sprigs sage
2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high. Season pork chops all over (including the fat cap) with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Cook pork chops until the bottom sides are golden brown, about 1 minute. Turn and cook on the other side about 1 minute before turning again. Don’t forget the sides of the chops.
Repeat this process, turning every minute until chops are deep golden brown on all sides and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 138°F, about 8–10 minutes (total cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chops).
Remove the pan from the heat and add the sage, garlic, and butter, smashing garlic into butter. Return pan to the heat, tilt skillet and spoon foaming butter and drippings over the pork chops several rimes, making sure to baste the fat cap as well as the rib. Transfer pork chops to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes (or until the pork registers 145°F).
Thinly slice the meat and transfer to a serving platter or cut the pork between the ribs and serve whole with any juices from the cutting board spooned over the top.
Serve with your favorite sides. The first night I cut one pork rib in half and served Eggplant Parmesan and Sauteed Spinach with the chop. I wrapped the second chop in foil and refrigerated it for later in the week.
Later in the week, I cut the second rib chop in half and brushed it with Chili-Ginger Sauce/Marinade. I placed the cut chop under the broiler to glaze the pork on both sides. Use storebought of my recipe below:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce or hot pepper sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to boil, stirring, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
I served the glazed pork over my recipe for Asian Stir Fry Vegetables and Noodles. See recipe.
Italian Ribeye Steak
The rub adds delicious flavor to the steak.
2 tablespoons Citrus Rosemary Gray Salt Rub, recipe below
2 (10-ounce) ribeye steaks
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 thyme sprigs
Season the rib eye steaks all over with the citrus rosemary sea salt. Let the meat stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the steaks and cook over high heat until crusty on the bottom, about 4minutes. Turn the steaks over and add the butter, thyme, and garlic to the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, basting the steaks with the melted butter, garlic, and herbs, until the steaks are medium-rare, about 4 minutes longer.
Transfer the steaks to a serving platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice the meat and serve with the pan juices poured over the steak.
Citrus Rosemary Gray Salt Rub
1 cup of coarse gray sea salt
Grated lemon peel from 1 lemon
Grated orange peel from 1 orange
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
Combine the above ingredients and spread on a baking sheet lined with baking paper
Let it air-dry for 2 days or dry it in the oven at the lowest oven setting your oven has 2 hours
Store in an airtight container.
Spinach, Tomato, Blue Cheese Salad
5 oz baby spinach leaves
1 large or two small scallions, sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
1-2 tablespoon Italian vinaigrette
In a large salad bowl toss together the baby spinach, scallions, blue cheese, black pepper and 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette. Toss until salad is completely mixed and coated with dressing. If you need more dressing, add just a little bit more.
Baked Parmesan Garlic Breaded Mushrooms
This recipe can be doubled. I like to prepare this recipe earlier in the day and refrigerate the breaded mushrooms until baking time so that the crumbs are extra crispy.
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs
2 ½ tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
1 egg white
10 large white button mushrooms
Preheat the oven to 450 F degrees. Line an 8-inch baking dish with foil and spray the foil with olive oil cooking spray; set aside.
In a plastic ziplock bag combine the Panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and dried parsley. Add the oil and shake.
Place the egg white in another ziplock bag. Add all the mushrooms and shake until all are coated with egg white. Place all the mushrooms in the bag with the crumb mixture and shake.
In 2017, approximately 4.4 million Caribbean immigrants resided in the United States, accounting for 10 percent of the nation’s 44.5 million immigrants. With the notable exception of Jamaica, all major Caribbean nations were under direct U.S. political control at some point, which has created incentives and opportunities for the nationals of these islands to migrate to the United States. The first wave of large-scale voluntary migration from the Caribbean to the United States began in the first half of the 20th century and consisted mostly of laborers, including guest workers from the British West Indies program who worked in U.S. agriculture in the mid-1940s, as well as political exiles from Cuba. The migration accelerated in the 1960s when U.S. companies recruited large numbers of English-speaking workers (from laborers to nurses) from former English colonies (e.g., Jamaica). At the same time, political instability in Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic propelled emigration. The subsequent waves consisted mostly of their family members and working-class individuals. In contrast, skilled professionals have consistently constituted a relatively high share of Jamaican immigrants to the United States. Between 1980 and 2000, the Caribbean immigrant population increased by more than 50 percent every ten years (54 percent and 52 percent, respectively) to reach 2.9 million in 2000. The growth rate declined gradually afterward.
Caribbean cuisine is a fusion of African, Creole, Cajun, Amerindian, European, Latin American, East/North Indian, Middle Eastern, and Chinese. These influences were brought from many different countries when they came to the Caribbean. In addition, the population has created styles that are unique to the region. Ingredients that are common in most islands’ dishes are rice, plantains, beans, cassava, cilantro, bell peppers, chickpeas, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, coconut, and various proteins that are locally available like beef, poultry, pork or fish. A characteristic seasoning for the region is a green herb and oil-based marinade which imparts a flavor profile which is distinctively Caribbean in character. Additional ingredients may include onions, scotch bonnet peppers, celery, green onions, and herbs like cilantro, marjoram, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme. This green seasoning is used for a variety of dishes like curries, stews, and roasted meats.
Traditional dishes are important to island cultures, for example, the local version of Caribbean goat stew has been chosen as the official national dish of Montserrat and is also one of the signature dishes of St. Kitts and Nevis. Another popular dish in the Caribbean is called “Cook-up”, or pelau. Ackee and saltfish is another popular dish that is unique to Jamaica. Callaloo is a dish containing leafy greens and sometimes okra that is known throughout the Caribbean.
The variety of dessert dishes in the area also reflects the mixed origins of the recipes. In some areas, Black Cake, a derivative of English Christmas pudding may be served on special occasions. Black cake is a rich, molasses-spiced cake filled with dried fruits and is a part of Christmas festivities throughout the Caribbean. The cake varies from island to island.
Some Jamaican cuisine dishes are variations on the cuisines and cooking styles brought to the island from elsewhere. These are often modified to incorporate local produce. Others are novel and have developed locally. Popular Jamaican dishes include curry goat, fried dumplings, ackee and saltfish (cod). Jamaican patties and various pastries and bread are also popular as well as fruit beverages and Jamaican rum.
Across America, a new generation of Caribbean-American chefs is taking Caribbean cuisine to new heights, from unique rum bars to fine dining restaurants. These talented chefs are interpreting traditional dishes and ingredients from their grandmother’s kitchen in ways that are unexpected, but always authentic.
Some Caribbean recipes to try at home:
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl or jar.
Roasted Chicken with Jerk Seasoning
Jerk seasoning rub, recipe above
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large bone-in chicken breasts, cut in half, and 3-4 large bone-in thighs
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Mix oil and 3 tablespoons spice rub in a small bowl Reserve remaining rub for later. Rub chicken with jerk spice mixture; season with salt. Place the chicken in a covered container and marinate overnight.
Caribbean Sweet Potato Bake
Makes 6 servings
3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (2 pounds)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons dark rum
Grated peel and juice from 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 bananas, peeled and diced
Combine the mashed sweet potatoes with eggs, brown sugar, butter, rum, lime peel, juice and nutmeg in a mixing bowl. Beat until well blended.
Spoon into a shallow baking dish, place the sliced bananas around the top of the sweet potato mixture and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Callaloo is a popular Caribbean vegetable dish that is widely known throughout the Caribbean and has a distinctively Caribbean origin.
Recipes vary across the region, depending on the availability of local vegetables. The main ingredient is an indigenous green leaf called amaranth.
Callaloo, in Trinidad & Tobago and other eastern Caribbean countries, is generally made with okra and dasheen or water spinach. Variations may include coconut milk, crab, conch, Caribbean lobster, meats, pumpkin, chili peppers, and other seasonings or spices. The ingredients are added and simmered down to a somewhat stew-like consistency. When cooked, callaloo is dark green in color and is served as a side dish.
In Jamaica, callaloo is often combined with saltfish and is usually seasoned with tomatoes, onions, scallions, scotch bonnet peppers and cooking oil. It is often eaten with roasted breadfruit, boiled green bananas, and dumplings. It is a popular breakfast dish.
In Grenada, callaloo is steamed with onion and coconut milk and is eaten as a side dish. Grenadians also stir or blend the mixture until it has a smooth texture. Callaloo soup comprising callaloo, okra, dumplings, yam, potato, chicken and beef is traditionally eaten on Saturdays. It is also one of the most important ingredients in Oil Down, the island’s National Dish, that is comprised of steamed breadfruit, callaloo, yam, carrot and several varieties of meat or fish. All of this is steamed in coconut milk and saffron powder.
In the Virgin Islands, callaloo is served with a dish of fungee (mushrooms) on the side. In Guadeloupe, “calalou au crabe” (crab callaloo) is a traditional Easter dish.
4 cups callaloo, chopped and tightly packed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 sprigs thyme
1 medium tomato, chopped
Salt to taste
1 Scotch Bonnet (hot) pepper, whole or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons water
Remove the small branches with leaves from the main stem and submerge the callaloo into a bowl of cold water. Let soak for a minute and remove, discarding the water. Repeat 2 more times. Finely chop the leaves and branches and set aside. Place oil in a large pot, add onions, thyme, tomato, and scotch bonnet pepper on medium heat, saute; until onion is translucent. Add callaloo and water, allow to simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes or until tender.
In Italian, “torta” simply means a sweet or savory cake. A traditional Italian torta usually includes ricotta cheese, parmesan, parsley, and onions. There are also variations that contain meat and some that are completely vegetarian. These vegetarian tortes sometimes contain artichokes and herbs for flavor. This torta is made in a springform pan instead of a traditional pie pan.
I have made potato tortes many times through the years, but this summer, not only did I have an abundance of potatoes but also an abundance of yellow squash from my CSA share. So I thought why not combine them. Turned out delicious. Serve with a mixed green salad and if you want a side of meat, grilled sausage would be good. This torte also makes an excellent antipasto course. Serve at room temperature cut into thin wedges.
Summer Squash and Potato Torta
1 green onion, finely minced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 1/2 pounds yellow crookneck squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
3 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Butter an 8-inch springform pan. Wrap the outside of the pan in heavy-duty foil.
In a mixing bowl combine the green onion, Parmesan cheese, flour, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Layer 1/2 of the potatoes in concentric circles in the bottom of the prepared pan, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the cheese mixture.
Layer 1/2 of the squash slices in concentric circles on top of the potatoes/cheese mixture. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the cheese mixture. Repeat with a second layer of the potatoes, cheese mixture, squash slices and cheese mixture. Drizzle the olive oil over the top Cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake until the potatoes are almost tender, 90 minutes. Remove the foil; bake uncovered until the torte begins to brown and potatoes are tender, about 90 minutes longer.
Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Remove the sides of the pan and place a serving plate on top. Turn the torte over and remove the pan bottom. Cut the torte into wedges to serve.