Try these delicacies next time you’re in the islands
Bold spices, fresh seafood, rice and tropical fruits are common ingredients throughout this balmy region. Each country has its own particular specialties—often a fusion of French, African and Spanish culinary styles. Here are a few of the best Caribbean treats and national dishes to sample on your next trip.
BAHAMAS: Cracked conch
Conch (pronounced konk) is a Bahamian staple. This firm shellfish is prepared in a variety of ways, from raw sushi-style to fritters to rich chowder. But seek out cracked conch—the meat is scored, marinated in lime juice, dipped in beaten egg, rolled in flour seasoned with fresh thyme and pepper, and then fried till it’s golden. You can find this crispy delight at beachside stands as well as upscale restaurants in Nassau—it’s a dish that knows no boundaries.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Mofongo
This garlicky mixture is one of the most popular dishes in the D.R. Of African origin by way of Puerto Rico, mofongo sometimes includes crab and shrimp, but the main ingredients are mashed fried green plantains, chicharrón (fried pork rind) and bacon. Just don’t confuse mofongo with mondongo—a local stew—unless you’re in the mood to sample tripe (stomach lining).
GUADELOUPE: Pork Colombo
In the Caribbean, “Colombo” is often used to describe curried meat or seafood; the name comes from the city of Colombo in Sri Lanka. The curry powder, made of toasted cumin, cloves, fenugreek and mustard seeds, dates back to the Sri Lankans who were brought here in the 16th century to work the sugarcane plantations. Today, this tasty curry made from easily found ingredients—tender pork, zucchini, potatoes, green mango and garlic—is eaten all over Guadeloupe.
JAMAICA: Ackee and codfish
It seems most everyone loves jerk chicken, but there’s a lesser-known breakfast dish found here that many tourists never try. Ackee and codfish features Jamaica’s national fruit, a relative of the lychee. Boiled ackee fruit is combined with tomatoes and onions and served as a sauce over sautéed fresh cod. Light and nutritious, this dish is a great way to kick off a relaxing beach day or adventures in Montego Bay.
PUERTO RICO: Pernil and arroz con gandules
From the Cayman Islands to Trinidad, you’ll find the Caribbean standby of pigeon peas and rice. It’s especially good in Puerto Rico, where it’s seasoned with smoked ham and sofrito (an aromatic purée of cilantro, peppers, tomatoes and garlic) and paired with pernil (pork shoulder, roasted till it’s falling off the bone).