Caribbean cooking can be largely defined as "Creole" cooking, or a mixture of a variety of influences, spices and tastes. Influences of the Dutch, Chinese, Indian, Spanish, French and African cultures can all be found in Caribbean cooking methods and recipes. Popular ingredients include seafood, chicken, goat, yams, taro, plantains, limes and other tropical fruits. Several cooking methods are closely identified with Caribbean cooking.
Fish and other seafood are a major part of Caribbean cooking. Blaff is a popular cooking method that originated on the island of Martinique. White fish is marinated in a mixture of hot peppers, garlic and lime juice for several hours and then poached. This method can also be used for other seafood, such as shrimp.
Caribbean dishes that use coconut milk that is cooked down to thicken the consistency are called "Rundown." This cooking method can be used in combination with chicken, vegetables and fruit. The rundown is often combined with other spices or garlic to season the coconut milk.
Jerk cooking refers to the use of dry or wet seasoning for meat, seafood and vegetables. The seasoning is typically sweet and spicy. Spices in jerk cooking include allspice, scotch bonnet pepper, pimento, thyme, cinnamon, cloves, garlic and ginger. The spices are blended together and then the food is marinated for 12 hours or more before cooking. While most items are grilled when using the jerk cooking method, other cooking methods such as broiling, baking and steaming are also used.
Callaloo is a method of cooking soup that is popular in the Caribbean region. Callaloo is focused on green vegetables, including okra, spinach and variations on dasheen (a tender green leaf with a purple dot). Other ingredients may include chilli pepper, squash and tomato, but there are many variations to callaloo cooking, as with most stews or soups.
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