Island dwelling natives have limited food resources for their cooking, and they don't have a lot of money to spend. Ocean-going sailors have a lot in common. Our galleys are small, most of us don't have refrigeration, and we live on pretty tight budgets. But seasoned sailors quickly discover that simple meals using fresh ingredients and locally available herbs and spices can be every bit as delicious as any gourmet meal served in a pricey Manhattan bistro. Let's share some of the great recipes we've discovered along the way in our travels.

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Here's my first contribution, just to prime the pump and encourge fellow sailors who may be harboring some really great dishes discovered along their sailing route. This was a featured recipe that appeared in the Cooking Aboard article in the August 2010 issue of Southwinds Magazine to which I contribute each month.

Rice and bean dishes take on a totally different character when meat is included. Pork and fish are more commonly used by Caribbean islanders because they are cheaper to buy than beef. This sumptuous stew hails from Cuba, but there are many variations throughout the Caribbean that approximate its rich, rewarding flavor. Notice the total absence of any exotic, or hard-to-find ingredients. I’ve suggested a jalapeno or serrano pepper to give it a little “bite,” but that’s optional. If this dish were prepared in Puerto Rico, local chefs would probably add a couple tablespoons of sofrito, a fresh vegetable condiment, but that’s optional, too. So, don’t be afraid to put your own spin on this authentic native dish. Serve with hot corn tortillas, or Johnny cake.

1 large Spanish (yellow) onion, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons olive oil (doesn’t have to be virgin)
3 lbs. boneless pork loin, (not tenderloin) cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ½ cups chicken broth (homemade is best if you have it)
½ cup long-grain rice
1 can (15-19 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 jalapeno or Serrano chili pepper, chopped
½ cup pimiento-stuffed olives, sliced (optional, but nice touch)
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

(1) Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat on stovetop. Season pork with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper. Working in batches, add pork and cook for about 6 minutes, turning occasionally until browned on all sides. When done, transfer to a platter.
(2) Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in pot and reduce heat to medium, then add onions and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minutes, then return pork and juices on platter to pot, add broth and bring to a boil. Stir in rice and reduce heat to medium-low and partially cover pot. Simmer for 1 hour, or until pork is tender.
(3) Stir in black beans and chopped cilantro and cook for about 7 minutes more, or until beans are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, To thicken sauce, just crush some beans and rice against side of the pot with a large spoon or spatula. Stir in sliced olives, if using. Serves 6 hungry sailors.

I look forward to some input from my fellow sailors. Fair winds to all of you.

IAhoy! Here's another native recipe that is so easy to prepare and will be a welcome addition to any sailboat's galley:

(da real ting)

Jamaica jerk is without question one of the most distinctive tastes to be found in Caribbean cooking. Before I first visited the island myself, I had eaten many dishes at restaurants in the United States and Central America, each claiming to be “authentic” Jamaica jerk seasoned. But it was not until I sailed into Port Antonio, the old banana port on the north shore of Jamaica, and encountered first-hand “da real ting” at a Saturday market in the local parish that I realized what a stunningly distinctive taste it is.

My first taste of “da real ting” was made all the more memorable by an unexpected appearance at the market of 5 female Voodoo practitioners screeching and dancing to the deafening beat of sticks-on-metal cans by a half-dozen Jamaican boys following in their wake. Dressed in immaculate white dresses and holding white-feathered chickens under their arms, the women leaped and twirled in frenzied worship, some appearing to be in a trance-like state. Then suddenly, one of them grabbed a chicken by its neck and wrung the head free of the body. The headless chicken plopped to the ground, wings flapping, and ran amuck wildly spewing blood from its stump. My daughter, who was about 3 years old at the time, remembers this bizarre demonstration more vividly today than her first taste of the mouth-watering grilled Jamaica jerk chicken that we bought later from a market vendor.

There are probably more variations on the Jamaican Jerk recipe than there are sailboats in the Caribbean. But the essential unchanging ingredients are Scotch Bonnet peppers, ground allspice, dried thyme and nutmeg. From there, it’s every chef for himself. This recipe is about as authentic as it gets, and I can assure you that no matter whether you use it with chicken, pork, or beef, you will experience “da real ting” straight from Jamaica.

2 Scotch Bonnet peppers, seeded, coarsely chopped
½ cup scallions, minced
1 Tablespoon garlic, chopped
½ Tablespoon dried thyme
½ Tablespoon ground allspice
½ Tablespoon ground cinnamon
¼ Tablespoon nutmeg
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation: Just combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. The chosen meat should be allowed to marinate for at least several hours, preferably overnight in a cooler. One of my favorites is to take inexpensive chicken leg quarters, hack them apart with a cleaver, pull back the skins and rub the meat with the marinade, then pull the skin back into place and cover all the chicken in a stainless steel bowl with the marinade. I turn the chicken several times during the day; the aroma really makes your mouth water!

Now, just heat and oil the grill, and brown the chicken quickly over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and cook more slowly for about 45 minutes. Serve with rice and peas, or maybe plantains fried in butter. A nice tropical fruit salad would be great, too.

Welcome to Jamaica!

If you go to the Bahamas, you have to have Conch Salad.  Going to the Bahamas and not having it is like going to Rome and not visiting the Coliseum.  The recipe below is open to wide variation.  One of the good things about it is that you do not have to pound the conch in order to tenderize it since it is cut into tiny pieces.  Also, the lime juice will preserve it for a short time without refrigeration.



Conch Salad

Chop and dice roughly equal quantities of tomato, green pepper and onion.  Some people squeeze the juice from the diced tomatoes before adding them to the mix (Friendly Joe on Bimini who prepares the best salad we’ve tasted, does this).  Some people also chop and dice a bit of apple for the salad.  Then, chop and finely dice some raw conch (the quantity roughly equal to the rest of the ingredients so you have about half conch and half vegetables).  Squeeze a good quantity of lime juice into the salad.  (Personally, we also like to add some lime zest, but that’s not authentic)  Some people also add some orange juice to the mixture.  A bit of goat pepper (habañero) or other kind of pepper for heat.  Salt to taste.  Enjoy.  We also use this recipe for diced fresh raw tuna and snapper. 



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