Caribbean Kitchen (Winter 1994)

The Latin Flavour

Illustration by Peter Jarrette

Because the Caribbean is a meeting-point for so many cultures, a trip through the islands can produce as much variety as a trip across four continents. International chef Joe Broeon launches out on a culinary journey, starting with recipes from the Spanish-speaking Caribbean

SOP DE CAROATAS NEGRAS

Cuban-style Black Bean Soup

Although many Caribbean islands have their own version of Black Bean Soup, this one comes from a historic restaurant in Havana, much frequented by Ernest Hemingway.

1 lb. dried black beans

4 pts. water

2 fl. ozs olive oil

6 cloves peeled garlic, crushed

2 peeled onions, chopped

6 seasoning peppers, seeded and diced

Salt and ground black pepper

4 ozs diced smoked ham

2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano

1 tsp. shredded cilantro

1 fl. oz. dry Spanish sherry

Cooked rice and chopped onion (garnish)

1. Pick over beans. Wash well and soak overnight.

2. Drain beans, rinse and drain again. Place in a thick- bottomed pot or caldera and cover with 4 pts. water. (A stock made with a ham bone may be used for a stronger flavoured soup.) Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

3. In a separate pot, heat olive oil and sauté garlic, onions, smoked ham and seasoning peppers.

4. Add 1 cup black beans and roughly crush, then add remaining beans and stock; cook for further 30 minutes.

5. Add fresh herbs and dry sherry and adjust seasoning.

6. Serve with a small portion of cooked rice and raw chopped onion on the side.

PASTELON BORINQUON

Puerto Rican Lasagna

This is a popular countryside recipe in Puerto Rico, used at special family gatherings or brunch-type meals. It can be prepared in advance and refrigerated and baked when needed.

Filling

A.

1/2 oz. salt pork, washed and diced

1 oz. lean smoked ham, washed and diced

1tsp. fat or Achiote colouring or bacon

1/4 green pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 sweet chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 onion, peeled, 1 tomato

B.

1/2 tsp. whole dried oregano, crushed

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

3 olives, stuffed with pimentos, chopped

2 dry prunes, pitted and chopped

1 tsp. seeded raisins

1/2 tsp. capers

1/4 cup tomato sauce

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. cider vinegar

1/2lb. lean ground beef

Plantain mixture

4 or 5 large ripe plantains (amarillos)

11/2 quarts (6 cups) water

1 tbsp. salt

2 ozs. (4 tbsp.) butter or oleo margarine

1/2 cup flour

1. Prepare filling as follows. Brown salt pork and cured ham rapidly. Reduce heat to low, add rest of ingredients listed in A, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add ingredients listed in B, mix well and cook over moderate heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Prepare plantain mixture as follows. In a pot, mix water and salt. Add unpeeled plantain halves. Boil over high heat for 15 minutes. Drain, peel, mash, and mix with butter. Add flour and mix.

3. Grease a 10-inch pie glass baking plate and spread half of the plantain mixture. Top with the filling and cover with remainder of plantain mixture.

4. Preheat oven to 350F and bake for 30 minutes.

5. An alternative to mashing the plantains is to slice as for piononos and make layers like a lasagna.

VENEZUELAN CEVICHE

People think of the Caribbean as islands, but there is a long Latin American coastline that should not be forgotten. This recipe relies on an abundance of fresh fish.

1 Ib. diced fresh fish, skinned and boned (grouper, snapper and mahi mahi all work well)

3 ozs. chopped onion

1 clove crushed garlic

2 diced seasoning peppers

1 small diced hot pepper

2 tsp. cilantro, chopped

1 tsp. chopped fresh basil

1 medium grated carrot

2 ozs. sliced tomatoes

1 tbsp. white vinegar

Fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Mix fish and all ingredients in a bowl; add vinegar and enough lime juice to cover all. Marinate for at least 3 hours in a refrigerator. Serve on a bed of lettuce.

Joe brown is Chef/Patron of the Solimar Restaurant in Port of Spain