A Conch Shack, West End, Grand Bahama.
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The shack sits on top a mountain of thousands of old conch shells

Cooking In The Caribbean  
             
Cooking is one of life's necessities and as long as rum has been distilled people have been cooking with it.
The Caribbean has a very diverse population and this is reflected in the styles of cooking. There are all sorts of European influences, British, French, Spanish, Dutch, infused with Indian, Chinese, South American, North American and of course the native Caribbean influence. As tourism continues to grow so does the amount of imported chefs for all the international resorts, they come from all over the world and bring with them a plethora of styles and influences.
The art of barbecuing was born in the Caribbean by the Arawak and Carib Indians. They used pit barbecues with a wooden grate called a "barbacoa" and the first Spanish settlers called this kind of cooking "boucan". The famous seafaring "buccaneers" were named after this style of cooking.
Of course this style of cooking has been taken one step further by the Maroons in Jamaica, who invented the art of "jerk" cooking. This involves the slow cooking of heavily spiced food over pimento wood and leaves. Not only has this become the Jamaican national dish, it has become the Caribbean dish of choice for many visiting tourists and has long been practiced in the vast majority of the islands.
Just as jerk has become so popular, the amount of recipes that include a splash or cup of rum has increased tremendously as people search for a real taste of the region.
Due to the geographical nature and isolation of some of the islands of the region, food was cooked with what was readily available. Lots of seafood was always available, fish of all descriptions, lobster, conch, turtle, shark, shellfish, shrimp, etc., were all common catches. Many of these were either salted or dried to preserve them before the days of refrigeration. Much salt-fish was traded from the east coast of Canada and New England for Caribbean molasses or rum, for many years. Salt-fish is still a popular dish in many countries.
Locally grown fruits and vegetables abound in the more fertile countries. Many of these have migrated from South America and countries farther afield. Sugar cane is a good example of this, bought over to Hispaniola and Cuba by Christopher Columbus on his second trip across "the pond".
In the smaller more isolated islands very little was imported that was fresh. Most items tended to be food items that had a long shelf life. This included canned foods, rice, canned or long life milk and dried meats and seafood. This tradition continues today in many islands and these items make great hurricane supplies when fresh food becomes sparse. Many recipes today still include these food items.
If anybody reading this site has any of thier own authentic rum recipes they would like to see on this site please e-mail them to the address shown at the bottom of this page.

Caribbean Restaurants can be very basic.
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This soup stand is in Negril, Jamaica.

When people had an abundance of particular food items, these were often traded to other islands or countries for various supplies. The biggest export in years past from the Turks and Caicos Islands were dried conch and locally produced salt. These were taken to neighboring islands, often in small handmade sail boats or sloops (see photo below). Salt was a much needed commodity before the days of refrigeration, and many islands in the southern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos produced salt in large low-lying salt ponds. Inagua in the southern Bahamas still has a thriving salt factory. The Morton Salt Company produces over a million tons of salt a year from salt ponds that cover over 12,000 acres. This white gold is exported all over the world.

Conch is an important part of the food diet in this island archipelago. Both the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos have vast areas of low lying sand bottomed banks. This is where the conchs thrive, in the grass that cover many of these banks. The old fashioned method of keeping conch edible after many days was to clean it then dry it in the hot sun. This was often called "hurricane ham" and was exported to many of the neighboring islands in exchange for fresh fruit, vegetables, rice, canned milk, oil, etc. etc.

 

Handmade wooden sailboats or sloops.
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These were the main form of transport between the islands.

It is almost impossible to give a definition of Caribbean cooking as there are so many different influences and regions within the region. Every island has its own speciality. The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos have conch recipes, Cuba is known for its black bean recipes, Jamaica of course has its spicy jerk recipes, Barbados has the flying fish as its staple food, Puerto Rico is famous for its chicken and rice dishes, Trinidad has its Asian influences in curries and roti's, while the French islands around Martinique create fantastic Creole dishes.

If you are lucky enough to travel around the Caribbean you will find something different to entice your taste buds on every island. Below is a small sample of some Caribbean dishes that use rum as one of the ingredients.

The Specials Menu Board at Horse Eye Jacks.
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This is a good example of a typical Caribbean menu.

Cooking With Rum Recipes

DESSERTS

Banana Flambay

This is another idea from old friend Kevin Lightbourn, who says this will be one of the most delicious desserts you will ever have. (Serves 2)

Ingredients:-

2 cups of Vanilla Ice Cream. French Vanilla is good for this recipe.

1 ripe banana, chopped into 1/4 inch rounds.

1/4 cup of brown sugar.

3 tbs of butter (if you like a more buttery flavour use more butter).

1/4 cup of dark rum (or more if you like a rum flavour).

Method:-

In a good size frying pan, melt the butter and add the brown sugar. Stir until the sugar forms a sauce (only a few seconds), then add the bananas and coat with sauce (another few seconds). Add the rum and light it on fire (if you tilt the pan a little it will be easier to light). Stir until the fire goes out. Spoon over the ice cream and enjoy. A little secret:- If there is a milky liquid left in the bottom of your bowl, use it in your coffee, there is your cream, sugar and a little rum. Rum Cream Coffee.

Drunk Soup Cake or Sopa Borracha from Panama
This is from a recipe sent in by rumlover Chuck from Panama who was the inspiration behind this page.
Ingredients:-
12 inches cooked angel cake
Ingredients for syrup:-
6 cups of water
4 cups of brown sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
1 cup of raisins
1 1/2 cups of prunes
1 cup of Ron Abuelo from Panama
Shredded skin from 1 lemon
2/3 cup of whisky or replace with more rum. 
Method:-
1. Cut the angel cake into little pieces (1 inch)
2. Put the sugar, water, cinnamon and lemon skin in a pot. Let it boil for 5 minutes. Drain it and put back in the pot. Add the raisins and prunes and cook for 3 more minutes, then turn off.
3. Add the liquor to the syrup and let them cool down.
4. In a deep tray (at least 2 inches deep), put the cake in it and add some syrup, then put more cake and more syrup, until you use it all.
5. Use any leftover prunes or raisins for decoration.
6. Let the cake absorb the syrup before you eat it (about 6 hours)
The cake is going to be very soupy, that is why it is called "sopa Borracha". In Panama it is usually served at weddings. You can adjust the amount of rum depending on your tastes. Not recommended for children.

Rumball Cookies

Ingredients:-

3 cups of Vanilla Wafers

1 cup of powdered sugar

2 tablespoons of Cocoa

2 tablespoons of White Karo Syrup

1 cup of ground pecans

1/2 cup of your favourite gold rum

Method:- Mix all together. Form into small balls, roll in extra powdered sugar. Place in metal container lined with wax paper to "season" for several days.

Fresh conch being pulled from it's shell.
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The Queen Conch (Strombus Gigas) is a staple food source in many islands.

CONCH RECIPES

Rum Conch Fritters

Ingredients:-

1 pound of cleaned conch

4 cloves of chopped garlic

2oz. of olive oil

1 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs

4 whole large eggs

1 teaspoon of Madras curry powder

2oz of your favourite dark rum

dash of turmeric

1/2 teaspoon of chopped fresh ginger

salt and pepper to taste

4oz of fish or chicken stock

Method:-

Roast the conch meat in a frying pan with olive oil and garlic, seasoned with salt and pepper. Transfer to a food processor and chop until very fine. Add the breadcrumbs, eggs, rum, curry powder, turmeric and fish stock, processed to a smooth texture. Add salt and pepper to taste. With two spoons, shape 15 dumplings and deep-fry until golden brown and cooked through. Serve it with your favourite dipping sauce.

 

 

Conch, lobster and crab make great seafood dishes.
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All these seafood are popular in the Turks & Caicos Islands.

Conch Chowder

Ingredients:-

1 pound of trimmed, tenderized conch

3 tablespoons of strained lime juice

5 tablespoons of tomato paste

4 strips of bacon, chopped

3 tablespoons of oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 sticks of celery, finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, seede, finely chopped

1 chile pepper, seede, finely chopped

4 tomatoes, seeded, chopped

1/4 cup of your favourite gold rum

1 pound of potatoes, peeled, diced

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon of dried thyme

1 teaspoon of Tobasco or other hot sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro

Method:-

Cut the conch into 1/2 inch pieces and place in a bowl. Add the lime juice and tomato sauce and mix well. Set aside to marinate.

Meanwhile, in a large stew pot, cook the bacon until browned. Pour off the fat. Add the olive oil, onion, celery, garlic, green pepper and chile pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until very lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Add the rum, potatoes, conch mixture, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 1 hour. Potatoes should be tender.

Discard the bay leaf. Stir in the Tobasco sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, sprinkle with fresh cilantro.

Cleaning fresh conch at Da Conch Shack.
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Old conch shells are now being recycled for various uses.

Curried Conch
Ingredients:-
6 large conch, cleaned and ground
1/4 cup of coconut rum
1/4 cup of butter
2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped
1 medium green pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup of curry powder
1 teaspoon of all purpose seasoning
2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of hot sauce
1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon granules
1 cup of coconut milk
Method:-
In a medium bowl, combine the ground conch and rum and stir gently to make sure the rum seeps through to the bottom. refrigerate for an hour or more, then drain, reserving the rum. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onions, green pepper, garlic and ginger. Saute, stirring frequently, until the vegetables just begin to soften, about four minutes, then add the curry powder, all spice and black pepper, stirring until blended. Cook two minutes longer, then add the conch and stir in gently, leaving some clumps instead of breaking all into fine pieces. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring several times so nothing sticks to the pot bottom. Stir in the rum, coconut milk and chicken bouillon and bring just to a simmer for 2 minutes. Serve over hot white rice or pasta.

Piles of old conch shells litter the Caribbean.
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Old conch shells in the sea make homes for many species of fish.

Frizzled Ham and Bananas Bahamian
Ingredients:-
8 slices of boiled ham
4 bananas
1/2 cup of your favourite gold rum
Method:-
Cook ham in butter for a minute or two and remove from heat. Cut the bananas in half lengthways and cook in same pan as the ham until slightly brown on both sides. Arrange the bananas and ham on a heated platter. Heat the rum slightly, ignite it and pour over the bananas and ham.

The World's only Conch Farm in Providenciales.
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This has recently been devastated by Hurricane Hanna and Ike.

Caribbean Rum Cornbread

Ingredients:-

1 1/2 cups of milk

1/2 cup of butter, melted and cooled

2 tablespoons of your favourite rum

2 eggs

2 cups of all purpose flour

1 cup of yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup of sugar

 1/3 cup of flaked coconut

3 teaspoons of baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

Method:-

Combine the butter, milk, eggs and rum in a bowl. Whisk until combined. Add the remaining ingredients, and stir until moist. Then spread out in an 8 inch square pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees.

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Jerk and Rum Recipes

Jerk Pork Loin

Ingredients:-

4 cups of unsweetened pineapple juice

1/3 cup of coarse kosher salt

1/4 cup of packed brown sugar

1/4 cup of your favourite rum

2 tablespoons of jerk seasoning

2 to 2 1/2 pound boneless pork top loin roast

Method:-

In a large container combine the pineapple juice, salt, brown sugar, rum and jerk seasoning. Stir to dissolve the salt. Carefully add the pork and cover. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, turning the pork occasionally.

Remove the meat from the brine and rinse. Then pat dry with paper towels.

Prepare the grill for indirect grilling at medium heat. Place the pork on the grill rack over a drip pan. Cover the grill and grill for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until 155 degrees F.

Remove the meat from the grill and then cover and let stand for 10 minutes before carving.

Fresh fish are a main part of any Caribbean diet.
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Wahoo are one of the best tasting fish.

Lobster with Rum-Jerk Butter

Ingredients:-

A few 1-2 lb lobsters (or tails), halved and cleaned

1 tablespoon of melted butter

1/2 a chopped onion

1 tablespoon of jerk seasoning

1/2 cup of chopped sweet pepper

1/4 cup of your favourite gold rum

2-3 tablespoons of butter

1/4 cup of fresh lime juice

1/4 cup of chopped chives and parsley

1/2 cup of tomatoe concasse for garnish

Method:-

Parboil the loster until bright red, then put them into a 300 degree F preheated oven, with a little butter. Saute the onion, jerk seasoning and sweet pepper in the remaining melted butter. Remove from heat and pour in the rum and add butter, stirring until it has melted evenly and creamily. Then add the lime juice and herbs. Serve over the lobster or in dipping bowls on a plate.

Fresh Snapper make a great dinner.
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Snapper of various kinds are regular restaurant fare.

Jerk Mojito Chicken

Ingredients:-

4 chicken breasts or thighs with skin on

2-3 tablespoons of jerk seasoning

1 ounce of white Jamaican rum

1 ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice

1 sprig of mint leaves, crushed

1 teaspoon of sugar

1/4 cup of vegetable oil

Method:-

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a Ziploc back and mix thoroughly. Add the chicken and coat thoroughly. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours, ensuring the chicken is coated at all times. The longer the chicken marinates the more intense the flavour will be. The alcohol and lime juice should "preserve" the chicken. When ready to grill, remove from the bag and pat dry. Let the chicken return to room temperature (about 10 minutes) while the grill is heating. Grill skin side down for about 5 minutes, then turn over, lower heat and grill until done.

Barracuda are a common fish in the Caribbean.
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Barracuda can be poisonous, but taste really good.

Rum Jerk Chicken and Avocado Salad

Ingredients:-

1-2 kg boneless chicken chunks

Jerk seasoning

1/4 cup of your favourite gold rum

1 teaspoon of lime juice

2 ripe avocados, cubed or halved

1 red onion, sliced

2 tomatoes, cut into wedges

1 yellow and 1 red pepper sliced

Assorted lettuce leaves

Method:-

Marinate the chicken in jerk seasoning, rum and lime juice. Bake at 350 F for 10 to 15 minutes. Assemble the salad, finishing off with the cubed avocado and chicken. Or, using the halved avocados, fill the avocado with the other ingredients.

"Shark On."
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Fishing is in the culture of the Caribbean.