Talk about Caribbean cuisine and you might automatically picture sipping a cocktail on the beach, but there’s much more to Caribbean cooking that that! With our great collection of Caribbean recipes, you’ll see the famous spice islands are awash with tropical flavour, from the classic spicy blend of jerk seasoning to the fruity flavours of sweet pineapple and refreshing coconut, a sure-fire way to bring a taste of sunshine to your kitchen.
Jerk cooking is deeply entwined with Jamaican history and can be traced back hundreds of years. Originally it is thought to have referred to the process of drying or preserving meat (think of snacking ‘jerky’). Nowadays, however, it is more commonly associated with a spice mix used to marinate and add flavour. Staying true to Jamaican heritage, pork is widely accepted as the first meat to be given the jerk treatment and this easy pulled jerk pork recipe is a great way to try it at home. Served with another Caribbean classic, rice and peas, it’s perfect for sharing after a long, slow roast that ensures melt-in-the-mouth meat.
Jerk cooking shouldn’t just be limited to pork – the seasoning’s complex mix of spices works wonders with a whole host of other meats, fish and vegetables. Local cooks will each have their own secret blend, but common denominators often include Scotch bonnet chillies for a fruity kick of heat, as well as a good dose of allspice (sometimes called Jamaican pimento). Fragrant thyme and zingy lime are frequent additions for the touch of freshness they add. This easy jerk chicken recipe has two options for the marinade so you can try making your own blend from scratch, or rely on a ready-made seasoning if preferred.
The humble pepperpot stew is the Caribbean answer to comfort food – slow-cooked meat and/or vegetables coddled in a hearty, warming soup. Made in a single pot, it’s packed with flavour from the herbs and spices. It’s aromatic enough to serve in summer, but also sufficiently filling and warming on a cold winter’s day. Try our easy beef pepperpot stew recipe as a starting point, and then try experimenting with different seasonal vegetables throughout the year.
Although they may not have originated in the Carribean, coconuts have become a staple ingredient in much of the region's cooking. For your own taste of the tropics, rustle up these vegan coconut pancakes and serve with sticky caramelised bananas and cool coconut yogurt.
Surrounded by the sparkling, blue Caribbean Sea, fresh fish and shellfish are a highlight of Caribbean cooking. The Bajan national dish, flying fish and cou cou, is not to be missed by visitors to Barbados – a firm, white fish served with a cornmeal side similar to polenta. Flying fish isn’t readily available in the UK, but you can easily try adding Caribbean spices to more common varieties. Meaty salmon and tuna stand up well to strong spices and cook quickly for an easy dinner. This rum-glazed salmon recipe has a sticky-sweet ginger sauce and is served with chilli greens and colourful sweet potato wedges.
Grown throughout South America and the Caribbean, the glorious pineapple is a true symbol of exotic, tropical cuisine. Their incredible versatility means pineapples work well in both sweet and savoury dishes. The firm flesh makes a delicious snack on its own and is often sold on sticks at roadside shacks as a refreshing treat. The raw flesh can also be chopped into savoury salsas, balancing out the kick of chilli, or juiced for adding to drinks. When cooked, the natural sweetness of the fruit is intensified, adding a caramelised flavour that works well in desserts and bakes. This simple sticky pineapple dessert recipe combines all the best bits of Caribbean cooking – sweet charred fruit, a zingy hit from the chilli and lime, a splash of rum and cooling coconut.
When it comes to baking, savoury breads and dumplings are commonly found across the Caribbean islands. Roti is a thin, pancake-like bread often served with curries and stews to help mop up the delicious sauces, while fry bakes (a fried bun) are popular both for breakfast and as a street food-style sandwich filled with fried fish. When it comes to sweets, the tropical fruits of the Caribbean are perfect for perking up some of your favourite existing recipes. Take this classic carrot cake loaf recipe, which is transformed with the addition of both pineapple and passion fruit.
As all this cooking is thirsty work, it seems only fair to include one classic cocktail for you to relax with, if not on a white sand beach, at least in the garden at home. Rum is traditionally the spirit of choice for the islands, and can range from clear white rums to dark, spiced varieties – perfect for a rum punch with a bit of a kick. For an easy glassful of sunshine, try this Caribbean sunrise cocktail recipe: made with vodka, pineapple and sweet grenadine, it’s sure to make you feel sunny, whatever the weather.
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