Those longing for a taste of the islands should expand their culinary palate to include the food and techniques of Turks and Caicos. These islands offer a variety of flavors and colors that make for an interesting plate.
Learning About Caribbean Food
The first step in learning how to cook like Caribbean locals is understanding the ingredients most used in recipes. Like many inhabitants of the islands in that part of the Atlantic Ocean, Turks and Caicos natives depend on fish and fruit for the bulk of their meals. The area is the habitat for some unique fish, so species like wahoo and dorado are on the list of delicacies. Tuna, barracuda, snapper, jacks, grouper and bonefish are also plentiful. Other types of seafood, such as crab and lobster, are used often in local cooking. Islanders also like poultry, smoked pork and beef.
Citrus and bananas are key ingredients in many dishes, but locals also eat a lot of corn, rice and local produce like sugar cane, apples and sweet potatoes, which are grown on North Caicos. Okra, peppers, papaya, peas and corn hominy are plentiful, but most other vegetables must be imported. Dishes typically include sauces and spices native to the area. Rum is also a staple used in various recipes.
One key ingredient in Turks and Caicos cooking is the salt. Locals use sea salt. Other items used to flavor local food include onion, lemon or lime juice, vinegar, thyme, ginger and coconut.
The Variety of Cooking Styles
The background of Turks and Caicos culture plays a role in recipes and cooking techniques. Since the islands are a part of Great Britain, British influence is included in cooking alongside the traditional styles of the Caribbean. Common dishes for breakfast and lunch include a boiled fish and grits, which are made from corn, and “johnnycake.” This is a baked or fried sweetened cornmeal cake cooked on a griddle.
Island Cooking Recipes
One popular dish is known as Rasta Pasta. For six servings, you will need:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 large sliced onion
2 yellow and red peppers cut in julienne slices
1 pound fettuccine pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups cooked black beans, drained
2 cups cooked broccoli crowns
1/4 cup chopped basil
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
Sauté the garlic, onions and peppers with hot oil until limp. Add beans. Cook fettuccine in boiling salted water. Drain and toss with olive oil. Combine pasta with peppers, broccoli and seasonings. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
Another popular dish is known as Aloo Beans and Shrimp. You will need:
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon seafood seasoning
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion
1 celery stalk
1 small carrot
1/2 red bell pepper
1/4 chili pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 potatoes, cubed
2 cups hot water
1 cups frozen French-cut green beans
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves
Toss the shrimp, white wine vinegar, seafood seasoning and cumin in a bowl. Cook the onions in oil. Mince and mix in the celery, carrot, red bell pepper and chili pepper; cook for five minutes. Add garlic and cook three minutes. Whisk curry powder and 1/2 cup water in small bowl and pour into cooked mix. Add potatoes and cook three minutes. Pour in 2 cups hot water and boil. Add green beans and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Add shrimp and cook three minutes. Sprinkle cilantro leaves over the mixture.
If you want to experience the food of the Turks and Caicos firsthand, there are great places to stay during your visit.