Three Creole recipes to give you a taste of the Caribbean

Drawing inspiration from her childhood, Vanessa Bolosier is on a mission to spread the love, sunshine and laughter that Caribbean Creole food brings. Ella Walker tries three recipes from her new cookbook

Thursday 01 July 2021 17:27
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<p>From starter to dessert, coconut is one of the most versatile fruits</p>

From starter to dessert, coconut is one of the most versatile fruits

Coconut slaw

“Coconut is my favourite fruit in the world. I love it because it’s so versatile: from starter to dessert, the possibilities are endless,” says author of Sunshine Kitchen: Delicious Creole Recipes from the Heart of the Caribbean Vanessa Bolosier. “I created this recipe because I love coconut souskay – a traditional Martinique recipe – but always felt it lacked something, a bit of a kick, creaminess, texture.

“This recipe is one of my guests’ favourite, always on the request list for menus at my supper clubs.”

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 coconut

¼ carrot, coarsely grated

1 small piece (about 3cm) fresh ginger, finely grated

¼ Scotch bonnet chilli, very finely chopped (optional)

Salt

1 lime

4 tbsp coconut milk

Method

1. Break the husk of the coconut and scoop out the meat. Wash the meat and pat dry with paper towels. Coarsely grate the coconut meat into a mixing bowl.

2. Add the carrot, ginger and chilli and season with salt to taste.

3. Squeeze in the lime juice, add the coconut milk and stir to mix evenly. Cover with clingfilm and place in the refrigerator for one hour before serving.

Flambé bananas recipe

The most popular dessert in Guadeloupe and Martinique

“The most popular dessert in Guadeloupe and Martinique. Traditionally made with ordinary bananas, but we found them too soft and so my mum made a firmer version, using ripe plantains,” explains Bolosier.

“It became a family recipe. When my sister and I lived in Paris I would make these when I missed home – and my sister couldn’t get enough. When she makes them, she uses cane syrup instead of sugar and adds vanilla.”

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 very ripe plantains

50g/4 tbsp butter

1 pinch grated cinnamon

1 pinch grated nutmeg

150g golden granulated sugar

Juice of 1 lime

3-4 tbsp white rum

Method

1. Peel the plantains and slice them in three lengthwise. Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the plantains on both sides, until golden.

2. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and lime juice. Pour the rum into the pan and – standing well back as the flames leap up – immediately either tilt the pan slightly so it touches the flame (if you have a gas hob) or hold a match near to the pan (on an electric hob) to flambé the bananas. Serve immediately.

Tip: Grate a little lime zest over the bananas before serving, and serve with coconut or vanilla ice cream.

Green banana and saltfish recipe

A rustic everyday meal, served in large portions

“I love the simplicity of this dish. In Guadeloupe, the people you’ll see ordering this for their lunch are often the big guys: truck drivers, builders, people with tough jobs working under the very hot Caribbean sun.

“Ti’ punch is de rigueur with this dish. It’s a rustic everyday meal, served in large portions – one of my favourites.”

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 thick salted cod cutlets (available in larger supermarkets and Caribbean stores)

2 green bananas per person

6 tbsp sunflower oil

2-3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 bay leaf

4 sprigs thyme

2 sprigs parsley, chopped

Juice of 1.5 limes

1 habanero chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

2 onions, sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large cucumber, peeled, grated

1 large avocado

Method

1. Put the salted cod in a saucepan, add cold water to cover, bring to the boil and boil for five minutes. Drain off the water and repeat the process. Drain.

2. Wash the green bananas thoroughly. Cut off both ends and make a 1cm-deep slit lengthwise; once boiled, the skin will drop off easily. Boil the green bananas for 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons of oil in a wide, shallow pot over a medium heat. Add the cod and cook for about two minutes on each side. Add the garlic, bay leaf, thyme sprigs, chopped parsley, juice of one lime and half the chilli and cook for five minutes. Reduce the heat and add four tablespoons of water. Cook for five minutes over a low heat, then set aside.

4. In a frying pan, heat four tablespoons of oil over a medium heat, add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes, until they become translucent. Add a little salt to taste, a pinch of pepper and the remaining chilli. Tip the onions over the cod.

5. Squeeze the juice of half a lime over the cucumbers. Peel the avocado and cut into small cubes.

6. Drain the green bananas and serve on a plate with the cod, cucumber and avocado.

Tip: Traditionally, we like to have a habanero chilli and a lime wedge on the side to adjust the flavours to individual taste, and some sunflower oil to pour over the green bananas. We crush everything together, from the fish to the avocado, and although it’s a messy plate, the flavours combine perfectly.

Recipes extracted from ‘Sunshine Kitchen: Delicious Creole Recipes from the Heart of the Caribbean’ by Vanessa Bolosier (Pavilion Books, £12.99; photography by Clare Winfield)

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