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All About Puerto Rican Food


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During a recent dinner at Hearth in New York, I asked Mrs. B what Puerto Rican food was like.

My experience with PR food is limited: rice and beans; arroz con pollo (with or without pigeon peas); pasteles; batido (fruit and milk shakes).

So, what else is there?

And what are your favorite Carribean cuisines/dishes/specialties, other than la cocina de Puerto Rico? (For instance, I really dig Jamaican pepper pot and Trinidadian blaff.)

Soba

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My list is very long.... bacalao, ropa vieja, cheese flan, rice 'n peas Jamaican style (actually pigeon peas, which are a bean), curry goat, stewed oxtail, tostones, sopa de pollo....

Apart from tripe based dishes and cow's foot soup I have yet to meet a Caribbean dish I didn't enjoy. I'll confess that I haven't tried Mannish Water or Goat's Head soup but I'm not rushing out to do so. I also love Ting soda and Ginger beer. The tragedy (as far as I'm concerned) is that two of my past girlfriends were Jamaican (by coincidence only) yet neither of them liked to cook.

I stumbled across the El Boricua web site last week when looking for a sofrito recipe - lots of wonderful stuff here about Puerto Rican history and culture and an especially good food section with great recipes and links:

The Rican Emeril

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My sister used to be married to a Dominican, so I got to know their cooking pretty well. AMong my favorites are:

Mofongo: roughly mashed green plantains with lard, pork cracklings and garlic sauce

Tostones: double-fried green plantains sprinkled with salt and lime juice (the plantains are cut into chunks, friued until soft, squashed cflat and then fried until crisp).

Sancocho: a kind of "refrigerator stew: with many different kinds of meat (beef, pork, goat, chicken, etc.), many different starches (green plantains, yucca, malanga, potato, etc.) and vegetables. Usually served over rice with a big slice of avacado.

Moro de guandules (sometimes con coco): rice with pigeon oeas (and sometimes coconut milk).

A great web site for Dominican cooking recipes and information is Aunt Clara's Dominican Cooking.

--

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I really like the floavors of Carribean cooking with the exception of plantains - I just can't do those , even the chips.

Cuban sandwiches, Ropa Vieja, Jerk Pork - Need to find Carribean for lunch.

Bill Russell

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Several years ago the Chickenboy & I ended up at one of those super-deluxe, outrageously expensive resorts in Puerto Rico (happily all on the company tab). The food, in keeping with the theme of the resort, was also outrageously expensive with nary a hint of Puerto Rican food to be found. Much to the chagrin of the staff (who believed that, once you've played golf, laid on the beach, and consumed drinks with umbrellas, you've seen all of Puerto Rico that's worthwhile), we made a break for it... And right outside the entrance gates we found the most fabulous little outdoor shack serving the real thing. It even had a giant mango tree in the parking "lot" and poor smooshed mangoes all over the ground! (The horror!!! :shock:) We tried tons of different things, but the one that sticks out in my mind was mofongo with conch. I have some recipes, but I've been afraid to make it as I believe eating conch in Upstate NY violates at least two laws of nature. Mmmm... But I still think about it.

Julie Layne

"...a good little eater."

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I have some recipes, but I've been afraid to make it as I believe eating conch in Upstate NY violates at least two laws of nature. Mmmm... But I still think about it.

Which two laws are those? I want to revel in my lawlessness and anarchy should I ever get a chance to have conch here in upstate NY - but when and if it happens I'll appreciate knwoing the details!

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Mmmmmm.... ackee and salt cod with those little hard dough biscuits - I love that stuff for breakfast! I forgot to mention collaloo - mmmmm!

What I have never develped a taste for is the Jamiacan treat of a sweet and dense raisin style bread sandwich with that orangey-yellow velveeta style cheese filling. My GF insisted that when I tried it the bread wasn't exactly the right type but I still think I wouldn't like it even with exactly the right bread.

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Ackee: someone mentioned to me once that ackee is the Caribbean durian. Is that true? Sort of like scrambled eggs and great with chiles.

It has a texture, when you fry it up, that's similar to scrambled eggs. And the salty/savory cod is sort of the "bacon" to go with it. I get the concept, but it's pretty, um, assertive. After a while I couldn't even stand my mother cooking it, the smell was so bad (that was more the salt cod than the ackee, though).

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My husband is from Trinidad and visits there are pretty much a food paradise for me. (His mother, who is Jamaican, made ackee and salt cod for me. I am apparently allergic and had a nasty reaction.) My favorite Trinidadian foods are roti skins with pumpkin, channa and potatoes, and mango chutney (especially from Dopson's), sada roti with tomato choka, accras with salt cod, doubles, bake and shark, phoulorie (sp?) and Fruta Guava Pineapple. And black cake. I love black cake.

Victoria Raschke, aka ms. victoria

Eat Your Heart Out: food memories, recipes, rants and reviews

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I agree that the texture of ackee is similar to scrambled eggs and I found the taste to be vaguely similar as well. I've wlays eaten it in a restaurant and can't comment on the cooking smells. If the salt cod is properly rinsed and flaked it provides a nice textural and taste contrats to the soft egginess of the ackee. I suspect that if the cod is not rinsed enough times or not flaked well enough, the chunks would be prety intense and might ruin the subtlety of this dish. I happen to enjoy salt cod in bacalao but it is strong and salty - not for everyone's taste.

There were some situations that occurred here in the US with some bad canned ackee - not sure if it was canned at the wrong stage of ripeness or if it was just a canning issue. Either way.... it was not legal here for quite some time (at least in NY state) and could be purchased only from "under the counter" if you were a known quantity to the grocer.

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There are some similarities among all the islands, but there are major differences, or so it seems between the English, French and Spanish speaking islands. In a thread entitled Puerto Rico, I recently posted about the meals we had last month in San Juan. The most successful meal, to me, was at a local restaurant that features good old fashioned and rather homestyle cooking. Three of us started with codfish fritters--bacalaitos--that made from a thin batter and consequently rather thin themselves. Our main courses were goat stew, pigs feet with chickpeas and salmorejo de jueyes. The last one is a shredded land crab that's been seasoned and cooked. There's not much meat on a land crab (jueye) and separating the meat from the shell is fairly labor intensive. This is a dish I've only had in restaurants. There used to be a few places in the sticks on the coast that specialized in jueyes. They were rudimentry restaurants that featured concrete tables and benches.

The national dish of Puerto Rico is probably asopao which is more of a soup than just a wet rice. Asopao de pollo is probably the most common form, but it's great with seafood, either one kind, such as shrimp, or a mixture of shell fish. In addition to soffrito, roasted red peppers and green olives, (alcaparado) recao or cilantro, stock and the main ingredient, there should be plenty of chorizo.

As chickenlady has discovered the best restaurant food is generally found in shacks, often by the beaches.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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There are some similarities among all the islands, but there are major differences, or so it seems between the English, French and Spanish speaking islands.

Cod fish and conch fritters seem to be a common food in all the islands. One very good rendition of cod fish fritters are the "accras" of Martinique. Similar to the Puertorrican "bacalaitos" but with chiles to make them spicy and very jummy :raz:

I wonder if jueyes are unique to PR. The jueyes place Bux referred to in his last post is called Richards and is in Carolina. As a young girl my family used to make the trek from our house (near the airport) by the beach dirt road (sometimes getting stuck in the soft sand and having to push the car out of the ditches) and across the river on a very rustic raft ( one guy pulled a rope and another guy pushed with a pole ). Then we arrived in Carolina and at Richards. We feasted on jueyes done in different ways, simply boiled, with rice, in "alcapurrias" or salmorejo (the meat stewed and placed back in the shell for presentation). It was a whole day occassion and a memorable one. Now, you can take the "expreso" and or go by the beach and cross a bridge, into Carolina. Richards is still there.

WorldTable • Our recently reactivated web page. Now interactive and updated regularly.
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The national dish of Puerto Rico is probably asopao which is more of a soup than just a wet rice. Asopao de pollo is probably the most common form, but it's great with seafood, either one kind, such as shrimp, or a mixture of shell fish. In addition to soffrito, roasted red peppers and green olives, (alcaparado) recao or cilantro, stock and the main ingredient, there should be plenty of chorizo.

Asopao is totally underrated. When we went on our trip to San Juan about 5 years ago, we probably had it 3 times. My favorite by far is Crab Asopao. Its awesome when prepared well -- like a Puerto Rican version of Cajun Gumbo.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Perhaps someone can help me identify a dessert I used to get at a local Jamaican restaurant? It was sold as "sweet potato pudding" but was closer to being liek a very dense and dark cake. Almost rubbery in texture.... it had an intense flavor, perhaps from molasses and some ginger?

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Can you please describe a typical Puerto Rican day of food, from breakfast

The breakfasts I remember most were the ones in "winter" when my mother used to make natilla which was the only way I would have eggs as a very young child. Otherwise, we used to have "mallorcas or suizos" an eggy-soft-sugary bread dunked in hot chocolate (later as I got older it was dunked in cafe con leche).

When I was in high school I was too far from home to go back there for lunch so I used to have lunch near my school. There was a small place, almost like someone's house where they served a plate of the day and it was usually something like rice and beans (the color of the beans varied from day to day-black, pink, red) tostones, some sort of stewed or fricaseed meat-chicken, beef, or pork chops and dessert usually flan or "casquitos de guayaba" (stewed, candied guava shells served with white farmer's cheese). I was usually half asleep on the second half of the school day :wub:

WorldTable • Our recently reactivated web page. Now interactive and updated regularly.
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Perhaps someone can help me identify a dessert I used to get at a local Jamaican restaurant? It was sold as "sweet potato pudding" but was closer to being liek a very dense and dark cake. Almost rubbery in texture.... it had an intense flavor, perhaps from molasses and some ginger?

My mother insists I've eaten this, but I don't recall it. It's basically mashed sweet potato with eggs and spices, baked. It has a lot of the same spices as dark cake (allspice, etc.). It's a special type of sweet potato, not the standard American supermarket type.

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I love the Media Noche sandwich and Pernil (roast pork) with black beans and rice and plantanos maduras. I also like Ropa Vieja and love batidos of all kinds especially Mamey. When it comes to the rest of the region I love anything done in a good jerk seasoning and a well made Tres Leches is a real treat too.

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My wife's parents have a house in Port Antonio Jamaica that we visit twice a year or so. I like ackee and salt fish. Those hard little biscuits I've heard called Johnny cakes. Real nice with Jamaican honey. Some of my favorites are jerked pork from Boston Bay, jerked chicken sausage, roasted red snapper, curry goat, mannish water if it's mild and doesn't have too many identifiable parts in it, smoked Marlin, Blue Mountain coffee, rice and peas, conch salad, all the fresh fruit you can imagine but particularly mangos and papayas, pumkin soup full of scotch bonnet peppers, ginger and allspice. Did I say jerk pork from Boston Bay. Oh I did. I'll say it again. Jerked pork from Boston Bay. God it plays hell on the digestive system but it's worth it every time. Two red stripe per half pound of pork is the best solution I've discovered.

Edited by ned (log)

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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