Popular Caribbean Dishes
At Island Surprise, we’re crazy about all things Caribbean! That’s why we created our one-of-a-kind gift box subscription service, featuring authentic Caribbean coffee, spices, rum cake, and more. While our customers are always thrilled to discover the island delights that await them in their monthly gift box, it can be difficult to decide what dishes to prepare with their new Caribbean spices. After all, there are more than 7,000 Caribbean islands, including 13 sovereign island nations, each with its own unique culture and cuisine. In this blog post, we discuss some of the most popular dishes in the Caribbean and what makes them exceptional. If you find your mouth watering by the end of this article, then head over to our online shop to browse our assortment of gift box options, featuring Jamaicaan coffee, jerk spice, scented candles, and more!
Jerk is a popular style of cooking native to Jamaica that involves dry-rubbing meat with a hot seasoning known as jerk spice. Jerk spice primarily relies upon two ingredients, allspice and scotch Bonnet peppers, but it may also include cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and more. Jerk spice is most often used with chicken, but it can also be used to season beef, pork, goat, seafood, boar, and other meats. Historians believe that jerk spice was originally developed by African slaves, who would cook wild hogs with jerk spice over an open fire of pimento wood. Today, jerk chicken can be cooked in the comfort of your own home, thanks to your oven or grill. If you’re interested in trying this authentic taste of Jamaica for yourself, check out our Caribbean Chef gift box, featuring a rotation of jerk seasoning, Carribean rubs, and more.
Another popular Caribbean dish is pepperpot, a meat stew that, like jerk chicken, derived from African slaves and soon spread throughout the Carribean islands. Pepperpot is most commonly made with beef, although pork, mutton, and chicken may also be used. The primary flavorings of pepperpot are cinnamon, a cassava syrup known as cassareep, and Caribbean hot peppers. Pepperpot is usually reserved for special occasions, such as Christmas and boxing day, but thanks to our popular Caribbean Chef gift box, you can enjoy pepperpot any time of the year.
This traditional dish of the French West Indies features chicken or beef, rice, pigeon peas, coconut milk, sugar, and spices such as cardamom, cloves, cumin, and coriander. To make pelau, the meat is first coated in sugar and caramelized, resulting in a dark brown stew. If you’re interested in making pelau for yourself, you can often find pigeon peas at Latin grocery stores or large grocery store chains. In the Caribbean, pelau is often served on weekends, when family and friends gather for a lime (Caribbean slang for get-together). So what are you waiting for? Call up your loved ones and serve them a heaping pot of pelau today!
Ackee and Saltfish
Ackee is a lychee-like fruit that was imported to Jamaica from Ghana in the late eighteenth-century. Now Jamaica’s official National Dish, ackee and saltfish is prepared by sauteing saltfish with boiled ackee, onions, scotch Bonnet peppers, tomatoes, black pepper, and pimiento. This dish is often served for breakfast or dinner, along with rice and peas or plain white rice. It is important to note that raw ackee is actually illegal in the United States, but you may buy it frozen or canned. The reason for this is the infamous Jamaican Vomiting, caused by the fruit’s toxic black seeds. If you want to try ackee for yourself, we recommend visiting a Jamaican restaurant or buying it pre-prepared.
Cou-cou is a popular porridge in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Cou-cou, which tastes similar to polenta or grits, is made from a simple mixture of cornmeal, okra, and water. If you’re interested in trying cou-cou, which is Barbados’s National Dish, we recommend pairing it with a saucy stew and steamed fish.
If you’ve ever walked the streets of Trinidad and Tabago, you’ve probably seen vendors hawking this handheld, fried delight, which feature two pieces of fried dough filled with curried chickpeas and various chutneys. First inspired by Indian cuisine, doubles is considered a diverse street food because it has African, Chinese, Indian, Lebanese, and even European influences. Doubles can be served spicy, sweet, or savory, and is usually eaten for breakfast or as a popular late-night snack.
Many tourists return from the Caribbean islands with large, beautiful shells known as conches. These distinctive treasures not only make for great keepsakes from your island vacation, but also house delicious gastropods that go great in soup. Conch chowder is very popular in the Bahamas, and today it can even be found in the Florida Keys. To prepare traditional Bahamian conch chowder, you will want to simmer conch meat with a variety of vegetables, such as onions, celery, tomatoes, carrots, and potatoes. This dish is the perfect way to warm up cold winter evenings. It is important to note that it is forbidden to take home live conches from the Caribbean, however you may bring back a few shells. If you’d like to purchase conch meat in the United States, we recommend calling your local seafood market ahead to see if they carry it. Frozen or canned conch meat can also be purchased online.
This delicious dessert cake is a seasonal favorite for holidays in the Caribbean. Rum cake is made from soaking dried fruit in rum and then mixing it with sugary dough. Rum cake has a rich history in the Caribbean islands, which you can read about in our blog post, The Origins of Rum Cake and Why It Tastes So Good. Rum cake can be difficult to prepare at home, as the fruit needs to soak for months, but, thanks to our Taste of the Islands gift box, you can have real Caribbean rum cake delivered monthly to your front door. Rum cake goes great with our selection of Jamaican coffees, or can be served as a special Christmas treat. Try this scrumptious treat for yourself by signing up for your Island Surprise gift box subscription today!
In this blog post, we’ve discussed only a few of the many delights that the Caribbean islands have to offer. As you can see, Caribbean cuisine has influences from all over the world, making it a diverse addition to your household meals. Browse our online shop to see what specific spices, foods, and coffees Island Surprise has to offer, and get cooking now!