Caribbean countries such as Jamaica and Trinidad have also been influenced by their close proximity to South America. Their inclusion in the so-called Spanish Empire throughout most of the 16th century has also left its mark on their cuisine. Today, you can find a broad array of authentic Caribbean cuisines in cities across the region.
Rice and Peas
Rice and peas are the basis of many Caribbean dishes. It’s a classic combination that has been used in many cultures throughout history. In the Caribbean, rice is usually the rice of choice. Sometimes it’s mixed with other grains such as millet or corn, but it’s typically eaten as a steamed or slow-cooked side dish. Caribbean peas are usually of the shelled variety.
They’re usually boiled or simmered and sometimes tossed with other seasonings. They’re a great side dish for meats or can be eaten on their own for a light lunch or snack. The popularity of rice and peas in the Caribbean is driven by the abundance of fresh tropical produce in the region.
Other ingredients such as fish and seafood, tropical fruits, and legumes make these dishes even more filling. Sip on a tropical beverage like rum punch or cold coconut water to complete the experience.
Fish and Seafood
The coastal regions of the Caribbean are home to some of the world’s best seafood. Tropical waters abound with a wide variety of fish and shellfish, including grouper, snapper, conch, and more. Seafood is an important part of the cuisines of many Caribbean countries. It’s usually prepared in a variety of different ways, including grilled, steamed, or in stews or casseroles.
You may also find some of the region’s signature seafood dishes, such as the Creole classic redfish and potatoes. Another tasty seafood dish you may come across is conch fritters, which are usually served with a side of tartar sauce. Seafood is often enjoyed as an appetizer or an entree. You may also find it served in a variety of soups or as an ingredient in other dishes.
Barbecue is a dish all Caribbean restaurants serve. It’s usually a slow-cooked pork or beef dish that’s seasoned with a variety of spices, herbs, and vegetables. Barbecue may be served with a variety of sides and condiments, such as slaw, potato salad, or other pickles. It’s typically eaten with a fork and spoon, but you may also find it served with a piece of bread.
Barbecue can be found in a variety of styles across the Caribbean. In some countries, such as Jamaica and the Lesser Antilles, it’s usually served in a tomato-based sauce, usually called barbecued chicken. In other countries, such as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, it’s usually served in a vinegar-based sauce, often known as Puerto Rican barbecue or Dominican barbecue.
Bread and baked goods are a staple of many Caribbean cuisines. You may find French bread, Portuguese rolls, or even local twists like roti. Bread is usually served with a variety of meats or fish, salads, or dips. You may even find a version of pan dulce or sweet bread. These round, sweet pastries are usually eaten with honey or served with sweetened condensed milk.
In some Caribbean countries, you may also find Caribbean-style pies, such as Jamaican gingerbread or Cuban pasteles. These are usually filled with traditional ingredients, such as coconut and sugar. Bread is also an important ingredient in a variety of drinks across the region. A simple cup of coffee or tea can be made more interesting with some Caribbean bread. In some Caribbean countries, you may even find a type of bread made with cassava, a type of root vegetable.
Beef and Lamb
Beef and lamb are commonly eaten in the Caribbean. You may find it served in a variety of ways, including as a stew, casserole, or even in a salad. In some countries, such as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, you may even find Caribbean-style trips.
When looking for beef and lamb, you may want to consider freshness. Many Caribbean foods are made with beef and lamb that’s recently come from the region. When buying from a regular supermarket, make sure to check the exact country of origin. In some Caribbean countries, you may also find a type of meat called goat or kid. This meat is similar to lamb but tastes a little gamier and is often served in a similar way.
Fats and Sweets
There’s usually a sweet component to many Caribbean meals, whether it’s in the form of a dessert or a sweet bread. In some countries, you may even find a version of roti that’s sweetened. One type of bread that’s commonly found in the region is called pan dulce.
These small round bread are usually made with sugar and are enjoyed with a glass of cream or condensed milk. Another popular sweet treat in the Caribbean is called Griffith cake. This bread is made with coconut and is often served with a tropical fruit jam. Throughout the region, you may also find a variety of tropical fruits, such as pineapple, bananas, and mangoes.
Dips and Spreads
In some Caribbean countries, you may also find a type of dip known as hokey pokey. This hot sauce-based condiment is typically served with bread or crackers and often has a spicy kick. Another popular condiment found across the region is called remoulade.
This mayonnaise-based condiment is usually served with seafood and is often made with a variety of spices, such as paprika or cumin. You may also find other types of Caribbean condiments, such as a version of jerk sauce or a version of guava jelly.
The Caribbean is a region of incredible beauty and diversity. This diverse group of islands is home to vibrant cultures, stunning landscapes, and delicious food. The tropical regions of the Caribbean are known for their abundance of fresh produce, so the food here is usually very healthy.
The region’s cuisine is influenced by many different cultures, creating an eclectic blend of flavors. Whether you’re looking for classic island fare or something more modern, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful corner of the world. Keep reading to learn what makes Caribbean food unique and explore some delicious recipes from home!