Tropical DishesCaribbean Cravings
After entire days spent on the water – either on a yacht or swimming close to one – it almost seems strange to dine on land. It must be the endless hours in the sun or maybe our inner “Treasure Island”peeking through, but our appetite seems to change in the BVIs. We’ve created a menu based on produce local to the island and centered around tropical flavors and fish. Even if it’s been a while since you’ve spent a carefree afternoon in salt water, these dishes will impart a taste of beaches and bounty.
Various takes on conch fritters can be found throughout the Caribbean, but we like to add aromatics to the batter to give it a little more flavor. If spice isn’t your thing, then swap the habanero with grilled peppers or a combination of herbs.
Yield: 16–20 fritters
In a sauté pan on medium-low heat, add oil. When oil is shimmering, add onion, pepper, and garlic. Season with salt and cover tightly. Stir occasionally. Sweat aromatics until onions are translucent, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool.
In a large bowl, add onion mixture, yolks, parsley, buttermilk, and conch. Mix well. Add flour and baking powder and mix. Delicately fold in egg whites.
Add enough oil to fill a saucepan by 4 inches. Using a candy thermometer, heat oil to 350˚F. Working in batches, add a heaping tablespoon of batter to oil and cook until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from oil, drain on paper towels, and season immediately with salt.
In a medium bowl, add yolks, garlic, mustard, paprika, lemon juice, pepper, and pinch of salt. Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking constantly, until mixture has emulsified. When all oil has been added, whisk an additional 15 seconds. Refrigerate in an airtight container and serve with fritters.
Seafood is a sure thing when eating in the BVIs; grilling it outdoors and pairing it with citrus and herbs is just the next logical step. Okra is a popular vegetable on the island, and frying it solves any slime problems. Fungi is a local take on polenta. Here, it adds a comforting element to the overall dish.
Yield: 4 servings
Preheat grill to 375˚F. Score outside of fish several times. Brush inside with olive oil and stuff evenly with lemon, lime, parsley, and chives. Season inside and outside with salt and pepper.
Brush grill basket with oil and place fish inside. Grill on either side until meat is opaque, about 5–6 minutes per side.
Bring chicken stock to a boil and add polenta in a thin stream. Reduce heat to medium. Whisk constantly, to avoid lumps, and cook until polenta is creamy, about 20–25 minutes.
Add eggs, buttermilk, and Tabasco to a bowl. Beat until well mixed. Add flour and cornmeal to another bowl and mix. Add okra to egg mixture. Remove okra slices from batter, allowing excess to drip off, and dredge in flour mixture.
Add enough oil to fill a saucepan by 4 inches. Using a candy thermometer, heat oil to 375˚F. Working in batches, add breaded okra to oil and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season immediately with salt. Serve with atop polenta.
At home, caught in the daily grind, it’s easy to skip breakfast and stick to large quantities of coffee, which is why we find sitting down to a morning meal such a luxury on vacation. This bread’s cakey-muffin quality adds extra decadence to the idea of quiet breakfast spent reading the paper over an ocean view.
Yield: 1 loaf
Preheat oven to 325˚F.
Add butter and sugars to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, until mixed. Add bananas, pecans, milk, and lemon zest and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and mix until just combined.
Line a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with parchment and grease. Add banana mixture to pan and, using a rubber spatula, spread on top until even. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 1 hour. Allow to cool slightly and remove from pan.
In a small bowl, add butter, honey, lemon zest and pinch of salt. Mix well with a rubber spatula and scoop into a small serving bowl. Press down into mold and wipe around edges.
Serve bread warm with honey-butter.
After spending a long day in the sun out on the water, we always crave clean flavors and light textures. This sorbet, which is easy to make, soothes the palate and provides a subtle ending to a meal. Just be sure to use very ripe mangoes or you won’t get the creaminess the dessert (and you) deserve.
Yield: 2 to 3 servings
In a saucepan, add sugar and water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook 2 minutes. Allow syrup to cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of a food processor, add mango and puree until very smooth, about 2–3 minutes. Add syrup, lime juice, and lime zest and puree for 15 seconds. Transfer mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate until cold.
Add mango puree to an ice cream machine and process according to machine’s directions. Store sorbet in an airtight container in the freezer.
Add cream, sugar, and extracts to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on high until soft peaks form, about 30 seconds. Refrigerate in an airtight container until serving.
Tortola’s Callwood Distillery produces Arundel rum, which is made with pure sugar cane instead of molasses. Pair it with passion fruit, pineapple, and lime, which are all grown on the island, and you have a refreshing adult beverage for a hot afternoon.
Yield: 1 serving
In a large cocktail shaker filled a third of the way with ice, add passion fruit puree, pineapple juice, simple syrup, rum, and lime juice. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds and pour into a chilled martini glass.