We are a multicultural nation with many different ethnic influences, Trini food cannot be defined by doubles and shark and bake only, although it is getting dangerously close to that. I am a lover of food, I enjoy learning about different cultures, especially through their foods. We do have many influences here in Tribidad and Tobago, many ingredients were bought to our shores by different nations during colonialism and its interesting to understand how they were used and how we use them today.
Here are some of my favourite dishes that I prepare often, using many ingredients pulled from a variety of cultures.
Let us always celebrate our diversity. Happy cooking!
Cassava and salt cod brandade
A traditional Mediterranean classic made with salted cod and potatoes, here I’ve used cassava for an earthy and delicious brandade and use lots of olive oil and salted fish, a gift from our Portuguese ancestors.
4 ozs salted cod
⅓ cup olive oil
⅓ cup milk
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 hot pepper, seeded
1 lb cassava, boiled and inner vein removed
½ cup milk
2 tbs butter
¼ cup chives, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Squeeze lime juice onto salt cod and boil in enough fresh water until tender, about 5 to 10 minutes, remove and flake.
Heat oil and ⅓ cup milk separately.
Place fish in a blender or food processor and puree add garlic and pepper.
With motor running add ⅓ up milk and oil alternately and process to a creamy consistency.
Remove and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Heat ½ cup milk with butter add to cassava and mash to a creamy consistency, a hand held mixer works well here. Add chives and combine.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Combine cassava with salt fish mixture and mix well.
Place into a shallow greased pie plate and bake until browned on top. About 15 minutes.
Remove and serve with toast points for a delicious appetiser.
Serves 6 to 8
Kingfish ceviche with harbanero
Ceviche is a Spanish Caribbean delicacy, delicious when the freshest fish is used, the fish is marinated in tons of fresh lime juice, which transforms the fish to a tender and delicate texture. It is then married with an array of fresh herbs, vegetables and fresh habanero to make an addictive first course. It is best consumed the day it is made.
1 lb kingfish fillet, fresh not frozen
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 yellow harbanero pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
2 young cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 small bunch chadon beni, sliced into chiffonade
Salt and black pepper
Wash the kingfish and cut into dice about ¼ inch, place into a glass bowl.
Slice limes into two and squeeze all onto fish.
Let marinade for about 2 hours covered in the refrigerator.
Drain the lime juice from the fish, place into a clean glass bowl.
Add all the other ingredients and stir well.
Drizzle liberally with olive oil and season with salt to taste.
Serve with freshly made fried corn or flour tortillas.
Char siu chicken wings
A delightful, flavourful appetiser, the sauce is heady with many levels of flavours drawn on our Chinese influences.
Use it as a basting sauce for your whole chicken barbecued chicken or ribs as well.
12 chicken wings, separated tips removed
1 tbs garlic
½ tsp five spice powder
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbs soy sauce
1 cup char sui sauce
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs chilli garlic sauce
¼ cup sesame seeds
Marinate chicken in marinade ingredients for one hour.
Place all sauce ingredients into a small sauce pan and heat to bubbly. Remove.
Preheat oven to 375F, place wings onto a lined baking tray, bake wings for 30 minutes until cooked through, generously brush wings with char sui sauce.
Bake for another 5 minutes, remove and garnish with sesame seeds.
Spicy Bengali onion pakoras
Pakoras are a most popular fritter snack in India with varying flavours from region to region, it is primarily made with chickpea flour, which lends a tender texture and sweet flavour.
1½ cups chickpea flour or besan
2 tsp roasted ground cumin
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp hot pepper or cayenne
½ tsp baking soda
¼ cup fresh chopped chadon beni
1 large potato, peeled and grated
2 medium onions thinly sliced
⅔ cup cold water
Coconut oil for frying
In a mixing bowl combine channa flour with cumin, salt, pepper, and baking soda.
Add chadon beni, potato and onion, stir to combine.
Add water and stir to make a thick batter.
Drop batter by spoonfuls into hot oil and fry on both sides for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Drain well. Serve with chutney.
Makes about 18.