Caribbean Snack Time

How to prepare some popular Caribbean snacks

Island-hopping through the Caribbean is a marvellously diverse pastime, and there comes a time when preparing a full meal just seems like too much work. Joe Brown explains how to make some light, easily-prepared Caribbean snacks

 

JAMAICA

Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Fritter

3 oz. grated raw pumpkin

2 oz. puréed cooked sweet potato

3 oz. flour

2 sprigs chopped shado beni (cilantro)

1/4 scotch bonnet hot pepper (very finely diced)

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 oz. melted clarified butter

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Fat for frying

Sift flour, seasoning and baking powder, blend with puréed sweet potato and grated pumpkin. While mixing, add a little milk to produce a firm dough. Form balls using 2 teaspoons and drop into hot fat. Fry until golden in colour and drain on absorbent paper.

 

ST CROIX, UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS

Conch Puffs

This dish is popular in many places, but the best I ever tried came from a small shack on Rainbow Beach.

1/2 lb. minced conch, cooked for about 20 mins, strained and cooled

8 oz. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 cups water

Salt and ground white pepper to taste

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/2 small scotch bonnet pepper, chopped

3 cloves chopped garlic

1 tsp. chopped shado beni (cilantro)

Fat or oil for frying

Sauté onions, garlic, shado beni and hot pepper in a little butter for 2–3 minutes without colouring. Stand aside to cool. Prepare a batter with flour, baking powder, salt and pepper, and add minced conch. Add all sautéd ingredients and blend well. If the mix is too set, add a touch more flour. Roll mix into balls (the size of table tennis balls) and drop into hot fat. Fry until golden, drain and serve immediately with a spicy BBQ sauce.

 

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Solimar’s Crab-Stuffed Coconut Shrimp

Crab meat stuffing (see below)

16-20 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and butterflied, with tails on

2 egg whites

Larch pinch cornstarch

1 cup shredded coconut, fresh or dried, unsweetened

Light sesame oil for deep-frying (for milder flavour, use 1/2 sesame oil and 1/2 canola oil)

Solimar Sweet and Sour Chili Dip for accompaniment (see below)

Prepare the crab meat stuffing (see below); stuff each shrimp with about 2 tablespoons of the stuffing. Re-close the shrimp as firmly as possible.

In a small bowl, beat the egg whites and cornstarch with a fork. Dip each shrimp into the mixture, then coat with the coconut to seal in the stuffing.

Heat the oil in a wok or deep fryer to 350°F. A small bread crumb should brown nicely when dropped in the oil. Carefully lower several shrimp into the hot oil. Do not crowd. Fry for 1–2 minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel and test one of the shrimp. If it is done, proceed with remaining shrimp in small batches, keeping each batch warm in the oven as they drain on paper towels. Serve at once with chili dip.

Crab meat stuffing

2 cups cooked crab meat

1 cup small cooked shrimp

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

2 tsp. minced cilantro

1 or 2 small hot chili peppers, such as piquins or serranos

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup finely diced water chestnuts

In a food processor, combine the crab meat, shrimp, garlic, ginger, cilantro, hot peppers, salt and ground pepper. Blend until smooth. Stir in the water chestnuts and mix thoroughly.

Solimar Sweet and Sour Chili Dip

This sauce can be used in place of barbecue sauce for grilling meats, or as a dip for plantain chips and other snacks.

6 tbsp. barbecue sauce

6 tbsp. ketchup

1/2 congo pepper or Habanero, seeds and stem removed, minced

2 tbsp. vinegar, preferably pepper vinegar

2 tbsp. minced dill pickle

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients and let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour for flavours to blend. Store in a sterilised jar in the refrigerator.

Yield: about 1 cup.

 

Joe Brown is Chef/Patron of Solimar Restaurant in Port of Spain