10 Classic Caribbean Dishes Slideshow

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Martinique: Accras

Accras, the ubiquitous cod fritters served throughout the French island with the apéritif were originally made with vegetables. Locals often eat them wedged between two hefty slices of baguette, the way they were eaten during the first half of the 20th century by workers as a breakfast staple. Today, fancy accras can be found in upscale restaurants made with shrimp or sea urchin, but the best are at Chez Carole, a simple eatery at the back of the colorful Fort-de-France market.

Puerto Rico: Mofongo

Setting the framework for Puerto Rican cuisine, rice, beans and plantains can be prepared in dozens of ways: simmered slowly with sofrito, crisped up as pegao; amarillos plantains fried with sugar; sliced and fried green plantains for tostones, or crushed into balls of mofongo mixed with pork or seafood and spices. At El Jibarito in Old San Juan let your waiter recommend the daily style.

Cuba: Puerco Asado (Roast Pork)

A whole crispy caramelized suckling pig may be hard to find except during the holidays but marinated pork shoulder or simpler roasts, always with a hint of orange juice, are plentiful and succulent. At El Ahibe in Miramar, order the tender meat in a Cuban sandwich or as a platter.

St. Lucia: Salt Fish and Green Figs

iStock/tentpole

Sit at Martha’s Table across from the towering pitons and order the national dish— a delicious and spicy stew made with shredded cod and green figs, the St. Lucian name for bananas.

Jamaica: Jerk Chicken

For the real thing, look for a fiery marinade and a pit hiding burning pimento wood. Not everyone is lucky enough to learn the secret of the sauce but most agree that it was first recorded by a hungry French priest in 1698.

Barbados: Flying Fish and Macaroni Pie

Arthur Bovino

Fried flying fish at the Friday night party in Oistins, a hopping fishing town, has become a legendary flavor stop. Battered and golden, the supple filet calls for a slice of Bajan macaroni pie on the side.

Dominica: Crab Callaloo

Who knew that inside the tiny speck of Dominica Island lurked one of the best crab callaloo in the Caribbean? At Orchard Restaurant the callaloo leaves (resembling spinach) are blended and mixed with crab and coconut milk.

Curacao: Keshi Yena

The legend of the keshi yená, or stuffed cheese, recounts how the Dutch rulers of the past used to throw out their hollowed cheese rinds. The slaves would take them, stuff fish or meat inside, and boil them. Today, the dish is lined with gouda or edam cheese and filled with chicken and vegetables. Many locals choose to eat theirs at Marshe Bieuw (the Old Market) in Willemstad.

Grand Cayman: Conch Chowder

Around the shallow waters off the island lie pink conch shells hiding the tender mollusk. Often found in a blend of herbs, tomato, and Cayman peppers at Vivine’s Kitchen, the shellfish is neither soft nor tough. It’s cooked just right!

Trinidad: Shark and Bake

Most famously made at Maracas Beach, these sandwiches are fried shark filets served on a roll called a “bake.” There’s an argument as to whether it’s shark and bake or bake and shark, but what’s for sure is that the filet is breaded in seasoned roti flour and then fried. Which condiment you douse it in — lettuce, tomato, cilantro, tamarind, garlic or hot sauce — is up to you.