Caribbean Island Recipes and Cuisine

Country | Caribbean Islands Image

The word creole, taken in its meaning of "mixture," fits most Caribbean cooking. Pre-Columbian Arawak and Taino people subsisted on the fruits of the sea and starchy cassava root. Imperial designs, slavery and merchant immigration brought succeeding influence from the British, Spanish, French, Dutch, African, Indian and Chinese.

Image Creative Commons by topyti

Each island has signature dishes reflecting its particular history. Seafood is widely eaten, as is chicken and goat. Okra, greens, taro and yams are popular, as well as plantains, limes, sour oranges and other tropical fruits.

Caribbean Island Recipes

Blaff

Ingredients | Limes Image

(Caribbean lime-poached fish)

Blaff is a way a preparing fish that is popular in the Caribbean, especially on the island of Martinique. Fish is marinated in lime juice, garlic and hot peppers and is then poached in the marinade. Some say the name comes from the sound the fish makes as you plop it in the simmering broth. Others say it comes from a mispronunciation of the word "broth" itself. Read more »

Boiled Green Bananas

Ingredients | Green Bananas

(Jamaican starchy side dish)

Boiled green bananas are a popular side dish in Jamaica and many other Caribbean islands where they are used much like potatoes or other root vegetables. Unripe bananas are starchier and much less sweet than the ripe version and make a good side dish for fish or chicken. Read more »

Conch Fritters

Ingredients | Conch Shell

(Caribbean deep-fried conch snacks)

The conch, pronounced "conk," is a large sea snail whose flavorful meat is a favorite of Caribbean Islanders. Conch is made into delicious soups, salads and these tasty fritters. Conch meat can be tough, so it's important to chop it very finely. The meat may be hard to find outside the Caribbean, but you can sometimes find it canned. For a good substitute, use chopped canned or fresh clams. Read more »

Coo-Coo

Ingredients | Cornmeal Image

(Bajan cornmeal mush with okra)

Coo-coo, or cou-cou, is one half of "coo-coo and flying fish," the Bajan national dish. This cornmeal porridge is similar to Italy's polenta or Africa's fufu and ugali. Okra goes by the name "ochro" on Barbados. Read more »

Fufu

Vegetables| Fufu Image

(West African mashed yams)

Fufu is a mash of yams or other starches served as an accompaniment to meat or vegetable stews. To eat fufu, pull a small ball of mush off with your fingers, form an indentation with your thumb and use it to scoop up stews and other dishes. Or place large balls in individual serving bowls and spoon stew around them. Read more »

Funchi

(Aruban-Curacaoan cornmeal mush; see Ugali recipe)

Pineapple Chicken Rundown

Ingredients | Pineapple and Coconut

(Guadeloupe chicken and pineapple in a coconut cream sauce)

Rundown is a type of Caribbean dish that uses a coconut milk sauce that is cooked down (run down) to reduce its volume and thicken it. Coconut rundown sauce goes well with fish, chicken or vegetables like potatoes and cabbage. This recipe from Guadeloupe uses chicken and balances the rich sauce with sweet pineapple chunks. Read more »

Planter's Punch

Beverages | Planter's Punch

(Caribbean rum punch)

Depending on whom you believe, planter's punch was either created by the wife of a Jamaican plantation owner, or at the Planter Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri. Regardless, this fruity punch has become a popular beverage to serve to guests throughout the Caribbean. Recipes vary widely, but they all contain rum, lime juice and a sweetener or other fruit juices. Read more »

Plátanos Fritos

Ingredients | Plantains Image

(Latin fried ripe plantains)

Plátanos fritos are popular in many countries around the world where the plantain is sometimes a major source of starchy calories. It is important to use ripe plantains for this dish (they have black skins). Green plantains will be much too dry. The Caribbean cook will often use fried plantains as an accompaniment to beef or goat dishes. Read more »

Pollo en Fricasé

Poultry | Pollo en Fricase

(Caribbean chicken fricassee)

Pollo en fricasé is a simple fricasee of chicken with typically Caribbean flavors like ham, oregano, cilantro and olives. Sometimes called fricasé de pollo, it is especially popular in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Leftovers taste even better when reheated the next day. Read more »

Sopa de Frijoles Negros

Soups | Sopa de Frijoles Negros Image

(Caribbean black bean soup)

Black bean soup is popular throughout the Caribbean, but it is especially well loved in Cuba. Sometimes spelled sopa de frijol negro. In Brazil it is known as sopa de feijão preto and is often pureed until smooth. Read more »

Sopi Mondongo

(Caribbean tripe and vegetable soup; see Sopa de Mondongo recipe)

Souskaï de Mangues Vertes

Ingredients | Mango Image

(French Caribbean mango appetizer)

This simple, healthy and lowfat fruit appetizer is particularly popular in Guadeloupe and the French Antilles. Read more »

Tostones

Appetizers | Tostones Image

(Puerto Rican fried plantains)

Tostones, twice-fried green plantains, are a favorite snack and side dish in Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Haitians call them bananes pesées, or banan peze. They are also eaten in Central America and throughout South America. In Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela they are known as patacones. Read more »