Traditional Caribbean Foods
Authentic Carib and Arawak recipes...
What are traditional Caribbean foods, the recipes the Caribs and Arawak Indians ate before Christopher Columbus set foot in Trinidad and Tobago?
Join us for a delicious gastronomical journey thru Caribbean food history, to explore relatively unchanged recipes left to us by the first West Indians.
We'll share with you our favorite Traditional Pepperpot Recipe, an everyday Amerindian stew; and our favorite Jerk Sauce Recipe, the original barbecue sauce. And you'll have the opportunity to share Your Favorite Caribbean Food Recipes with others...
Pepperpot was the staple meal of indigenous tribes when Christopher Columbus discovered Trinidad. Today pepperpot remains one of the traditional Caribbean foods eaten by South American, tropical rainforest societies.
The essential ingredient is cassareep, a savory sauce made from the initially poisonous juice left over from processing cassava, which is mixed with peppers and boiled for several hours. And if you can't find a bottle of cassareep in your local ethnic food store we'll show you how to make an alternative Cassareep Sauce to replace this essential ingredient.
In it's original form pepperpot was a native stew that included a wide variety of meats, fish, squash, beans, and even peanuts, which were added to the cassareep along with water, then cooked and kept simmering over an open fire in a large clay pot.
Meats would have included agouti, lappe, manicou (possum), quenk (wild pig), biche (wild deer), tattoo (armadillo), turtle, caiman and just about any meat, fish or fowl available that day. The original recipe may have also included indigenous spices - native forms of cinnamon and ginger, bay leaf, all spice and sea salt.
One of the most traditional Caribbean foods, pepperpot was always available, it was served to visitors as a gesture of hospitality, did not need refrigeration, and the flavor improved with time and daily additions.
Today's pepperpot recipes rarely include wild meats, are seldom cooked in clay pots or over open fires, and have been infused with a range of spices not available to early indigenous Caribbean natives.
When cooking versatile traditional Caribbean foods like pepperpot you can experiment with your selection of meats and seasonings. Many of today's recipes include meats like pig trotters, cowheel, oxtail, salted pigtail and the like, but if you prefer...
You can substitute pork, beef, chicken or shrimp because Amerindians included what ever was available that day, and in the tradition of this dish it is appropriate for you to do the same. Similarly you can experiment by adding contemporary Caribbean, non-indigenous, spices like clove, thyme, garlic, and coconut.
| Traditional Pepperpot Recipe|
Pepperpot is one of the easiest traditional Caribbean foods to prepare. The only thing you'll need that's out of the ordinary is a bottle of Cassareep, but you'll find that it's a good investment because you are sure to want to make this delicious traditional Caribbean recipe again:
1 lb - stewing beef, oxtail or cowheel (see hints below)
1 lb - pork or pig's trotters (see hints below)
1 lb - shrimp or skinless chicken (see hints below)
½ lb - salted pigtail or salted pork
½ cup - cassareep (see Cassareep Sauce Recipe below)
1 - scotch-bonnet or habanero pepper (see hints below)
1 large - onion, diced
1 small bunch - fresh thyme, or 2 tsp dried thyme leaves
½ head - garlic, diced
½ tsp - ground clove
1 tsp - ground cinnamon
2 dashes - Angostura Bitters
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 The traditional way to make pepperpot is to cube meats, add all the ingredients to a large stewing pot and cover with water. 2 Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately 2 hours, or until meat is very tender. It's that simple.
Pepperpot tastes best with plantain, coo-coo or fresh bread as side dishes, but also goes well with ground provisions or rice. Trying traditional Caribbean foods like pepperpot at home or while you are on vacation are great ways to immerse yourself in local culture and experience first hand Trinidad and Tobago history.
You may prefer to caramelize onions in a little canola oil prior to adding other ingredients to your stewing pot. And you might also wish to consider including a couple handfuls of raw peanuts to the stew, a very authentic addition that also adds flavor and texture.
Cooking time will need to be extended if you plan to include oxtail, cowheel, or pig's trotters. Presoak salted pigtail for a minimum of 2 hours before using. If you plan to include shrimp, wait until the dish is almost fully cooked before adding to the stewing pot. Including an whole scotch bonnet pepper may make the dish too spicy (hot) for some pallets, remove and discard seeds, and add pepper cautiously.
While not exactly a traditional Caribbean way of making pepperpot, the recipe below provides a cassareep substitute that can be used to approximate the color and flavor of this essential ingredient:
½ cup - vinegar (or wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons - molasses
2 tablespoons - fresh Caribbean limejuice
Replace ½ cup cassareep in the previous Traditional Pepperpot Recipe with these 3 ingredients, and cook as described.
We hope you try the traditional Caribbean foods that we'll be sharing with you. This delicious journey is like doing your own gastronomical archaeology as you eat your way through early Trinidad and Tobago history. Related Topics... Corn Soup, Great Trinidadian Food Maracas Shark and Bake Delicious Trinidad DoublesTrinidad Doubles Recipe Suggested Topics... Caribs, Arawaks, the First Trinidadians Caribbean Cannibal Stories Early History of the West Indies GO TO Options... TOP of Traditional Caribbean FoodsBack to Tasty Trinidad RecipesHOME PAGE