Sunday, April 14, 2013

Delicious Caribbean Menus

The plethora of fresh fish we've been getting at the Barracuda Bar and Grill at Beaches and Dreams has been great this year with regular catches of giant prawns, calamari and a great variety of Caribbean fish, including this mornings catch of Spanish Mackerel , which are running right here in the bight which paints the beachfront here in Hopkins, Belize with all of the colors from the palette every morning. I saw Old Man Nunez just as the sun came up casting his net to catch sprat to use for bait for the abundant Mackerel.

The changing colors of a Beaches and Dreams morning


1 cast from Mr. Nunez and he has all the bait he'll need to catch a boatload of Spanish Mackerel

" Buiti Bunafi" (pronounced Bweety Boon-ah-fee) I bid him in Garifuna, acknowledged by a nod from him as he paddled by, eyes scanning  below the surface with barely enough light to see the telltale silver flash that tells him he is on the sprat. He readies his net and in one throw he brings up enough sprat to catch a boatload of the Spanish Mackerel.  I order 10 pounds of filets from him and he is on his way.

The Mackerel have a high content of oil and this makes for perfect smoking. I'll brine them overnight with brown sugar and salt, the way the Athabascans taught me in Alaska with a slow smoldering fire far away from the fish. I'll be able to give the fish a good 8 hour smoke. It will make a fabulous appetizer with pickled onions in sour cream. I'll also mix some of the crumbly smoky goodness with some cream cheese and bread crumbs for a great stuffing for snapper, topped with a delicate Champagne sauce. The smoked  fish will also make add  flavor and texture to our Belizean Paella which is one of the stars of our menu when lobsters are not in season.

Ready for some smoke after a 12 hour brine

Ready to close the lid and let benign neglect take over

 For the Paella, we take our smoked chicken and pork tenderloin and toss it in a pan with extra virgin olive oil, I'll add the mackerel then too. I let these products get hot and flavor the oil with their smokey goodness before adding raw giant prawns and whatever fresh fish and seafood we have that day. To this we add a rich saffron broth and some half cooked short grain rice, garlic and herbs round out the flavor platform and once the rice is done, the Paella is served with fresh roasted vegetables, and, if its for me, a glass of Bolla Pinot Grigio..

The Appetizer of Smoked Mackerel with pickled onions and sour cream will have the pleasure of being accompanied by our signature Sourdough Ciabatta Bread, lightly crisped in the oven. this airy crusty bread is made with a Sourdough Starter I started in Alaska 25 years ago. I brought it down and every time I bake the fresh bread, I take little out and add it to more flour and water and in 3 days, have a new bubbling batch that make finished product chewy and slightly sour.

A fresh batch of Sourdough Starter bubbles with the original sourdough brought from my Alaskan 25 year old starter

 Its just another day in culinary Paradise here in Belize. We meld the past with the present, culturally and gastronomically, borrowing from all cultures to produce some great food right on our little stretch of beach...........You'd Better Believe it!

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