Here's another one of those classic soups you'll find being made on a Saturday throughout the Caribbean, with each household putting their own personal twist on things. While it's loving known as Red Peas Soup, the key ingredient in most cases is usually red beans (Kidney Beans). And though in this recipe I didn't use any ground provisions (I explain more in the demo video) it's also customary to add stewing beef and/or smoked meats as well. I went pretty basic to keep it simple for you to duplicate, while giving you maximum flavor and heartiness.
This is one fella you can take out of the Caribbean, but you can never take the "Caribbean" out of him. I've had the opportunity to dine in various countries / restaurants and while many of the dishes I've experienced we're definitely tasty, I will always head back 'home' to the islands when I need something comforting. Such is the case when I eat dishes containing yam, dasheen, green banana, eddoes, cassava and other ingredients we refer to as being 'provision'. I'll always remember weekends when mom would prepare this dish for me, my brother and dad.. my sisters we're somewhat picky eaters.
After moving to Canada I was exposed to many 'new' ingredients, which were not found in the typical Caribbean garden or market. One such ingredient which became an immediate hit with my taste buds was asparagus. Normally I'd grill them, but early in the season when it's still a bit too cold to go outside and spark up the grill, I like doing this sort of stew (stir-fry for many). Based on the method we use for making a saltfish (salted cod) stew in the Caribbean, this is certainly one of the best ways to enjoy asparagus.
Hopefully you've had time to try the Smoked Herring With Cabbage recipe I shared with you last week. A truly classic dish made with subtle differences throughout the Caribbean. This time we'll do one mom would always make for dad whenever she had leftovers from the cabbage and smoked herrings combo. Since we had a variety of banana trees in our kitchen garden at the back of the house, we always made use of the 'cooking fig" (green cooking bananas) supply we always seemed to have.
As a young fella on the islands, I don't ever recall having lamb (had to call mom and she confirmed this). And to be quite honest, I didn't even start eating goat until my adult years in Canada after living with my aunt, who's a master at cooking it in a rich and spicy curry sauce. Today I'm not a huge fan of lamb, as I find the taste and texture turns me off a little (plus the price), but the odd time it is cooked in our home, this is my go-to recipe. Not necessarily "Caribbean", but you'll noticed a lot of flavor-adding ingredients being used as we would in the Caribbean.
Callaloo, the delicious soup-like dish of the Southern Caribbean is traditionally made with the inclusion of fresh ocean crabs for it's unique and rich flavor. If one cannot source that wonderful 'blue' crab, we then look for that layer of flavor from salted meats like pigtails and beef, and I've seen some people use smoked meats on some occasions. I must point out that the traditional recipe for making callalloo (not to be confused with Jamaican Callaloo) are the tender leaves of the dasheen or taro plant. However, sourcing those in Canada is almost impossible, so we'll be using baby spinach with brilliant results in this vegetarian version of Callaloo.
I'm not a huge fan of turkey, especially when it's done the traditional North American way - roasted in the oven. I much prefer getting the cheaper cuts like the necks (Curry Turkey Necks) and in this case, wings. Though a bit tougher than chicken wings, I find that they hold up well to the Caribbean way of stewing and the outcome is quite delightful. Tender pieces of meat, with a wonderful gravy which is excellent on rice, potato, dumplings, roti or ground provisions. The key is in the way we'll season, marinate and finally braise these turkey wings in a process which is most traditional to the Southern Caribbean.
As a new immigrant to Canada, I remember the days when oxtails were just about the cheapest cut of meat you could get at the grocery store / butcher (they were practically giving the stuff away). Along with liver, gizzards, trotters, chicken feet, snouts and other parts of meats which were considered undesirable by the major part of the buying public, we reveled in the prices. In the Caribbean nothing goes to waste, so what most people refused to use, we had already perfected recipes which brought out the natural goodness of these cuts. Today, with oxtails hovering between $8 and $11 a pound, its now become something you buy for a special occasion or when you have a serious craving.. as in this case with me today!
Salsa is not a "Caribbean" type dish! Really? How easily we forget the Spanish speaking Caribbean, like Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico. I started making this take on salsa for my girls after I read the label of the pre-packaged stuff they were buying at the grocery stores. Called salsa, but lacked any real flavor and loaded with sodium and preservatives. You'll notice that I've taken the technique we use in Trinidad and Tobago for making Tomato Choka and applied it in making this salsa.. for what I believe is the best salsa you'll ever have/enjoy! Ask my daughters and their friends.
This is NOT a recipe on so many levels, but an ideal dish for when you want something light and for when it's just you you're 'cooking' for. Just about every day I get emails asking for healthy recipes and with the new 'living better' regime I follow, I thought I'd share this one with you. Our family home in the Caribbean is surrounded with many fruit and citrus trees, so I have a natural affection for both avocado and grapefruit. Maybe in the coming weeks I'll share mom's recipe for one of the most refreshing grapefruit juices you've ever had (I assure you). You can easily multiply the ingredients if you plan on making this for a group. Not only is this a super quick salad recipe, it's vegan, vegetarian and gluten free.