Andrew’s Essential Fiery Food Facts that a pyro-gourmaniac needs to Know
Fiery Cuisines Part 5 Belize
Belize is a melting pot of cultures. As such, its bubbling with hints of varied Fiery cuisines from all over the world
It’s a cultural smorgasbord. It’s as varied and rich as the several cultures that together make up Belize cuisine. Belizean food can be as peppery and fiery as the heat of the tropical sun, or as cool and refreshing as the crystal clear Caribbean waters that wash the Belize shores. With the addition of immigrants from India, mainland China, Nigeria and neighbouring Central American countries over the years, Belizean cuisine also now has an added international flavour.
And, particularly with the gastronomic rise in tourism in the past five years, European cuisine, as well as American favourites, has become as readily available as the stalwart Kriol (Creole) rice-and-beans, Latino chimole, Mayan caldo, Garifuna hudut or East Indian curried favourites – all dishes which, incidentally, can today be considered pan-Belizean. Arawak cooking, combined with African influences, also survives today through Garifuna cooking. These influences are what makes Belizean food so delectable. Visitors fall in love with local favourites like the tamales, chimole, hudut, roti, and of course the famous rice and beans. Tourists flock to Belize every year to get a closer look at the diverse cultures that make up this country through its food.
Foods that originated thousands of years ago are still served every day in Belize. Tamal is a perfect example, having its origin in the earliest Maya cuisine, as does the finger-licking-good Cochinita Pibil style of cooking pork meat. This cochinita pibil is a skinned pig, marinated with strong acidic citrus juice, coloured and flavoured with annatto seed, wrapped in plantain leaves and buried underground overnight for a slow-roast. Barbecue got its start with Buccaneers, whose name comes from buccan, an Arawak word for smoking meat, an occupation pirates busied themselves with while on shore or traded to keep a supply of meat aboard their vessels. So it is said then, that the Belizean barbecues are a throwback to the days of pirates standing around the cooking meat drinking ale or rum and swapping stories.
Just like the Mexican cuisine, rice and beans combo is also quintessential part of the Belizean meal. However, Belizeans love their rice flavoured with coconut milk. Often, this dish is served with potato salad, traditional baked plantain, coleslaw and Fiery pepper sauce.
Of course, Belizean Cuisine will not disappoint the meat eaters. Their traditional meal always includes a choice of meat dish, either beef, pork, chicken, or fish. Belizeans also love other varieties of meat, including the famous gibnut meat dishes, and meats of deer, iguana and Hicatee. Usually, the meat portion is grilled, stewed or fried.
Tacos are common in Belize too. Just like in Mexican cuisine, here tacos are also served with shredded meat, chopped veggies with a major portion of cabbage and onions, and cilantro. Belizeans eat tacos as a quick and snack-size meal.
In Belize, plantain is found in abundance. Belizean connoisseurs love traditional baked or fried plantains served as a side with an elaborated meal. This sweet golden-brown tasty side is a perfect side dish for any meal.
Now for some recipes to tease those Taste buds
Is a special spice blend that is significant in many recipes. It’s also called Recado Rojo or Achiote Paste
1 1/2 tbls achiote seeds
1/2 tbls coriander seeds
¼ tsp Habanero powder
1/2 tbls black peppercorns
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3 whole cloves
2 tsp dried oregano
5 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1-2 tbls white wine vinegar, or orange juice
Grind the first 7 ingredients to a powder in an electric spice mill. Achiote seeds are very hard, so it will take a little time.
Crush the garlic with the salt in a mortar, then gradually work in the ground spices. A hot red chilli pepper could be added; crush it with the garlic.
Moisten with the vinegar or bitter orange juice so that you have a smooth paste.
Form the paste into small disks or balls and let them dry, or put the paste into an airtight container to dry. Whether dried, or as a paste, the recado will keep for several months if refrigerated.
To use, mix with more orange juice.
Second one, every Belizean’s favourite
Beans and Rice
500 gm uncooked red kidney beans (yes, it’s okay to use canned)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Red Habanero
120 gm Brown onion, sliced
60 gm Bacon
250 ml Coconut milk
1-tsp Thyme, dried
Salt (to taste)
Wash beans, then soak for at least 4-hours using 6-8 cups water.
Rinse the soaked beans in fresh water. Add them to a large pot with the garlic, onion and bacon. Boil until tender.
Once the Beans are tender, season with Black Pepper, Thyme and salt. Add coconut milk, stir and bring to a low boil before serving.
500 gm Jasmine Rice, Rinsed of starch
¼-cup Coconut flakes, dried
Coconut water (not coconut milk) or just water to cover rice when cooking
Salt (to taste)
In a medium pan add rice and cover with liquid, either coconut water or ½ water and ½ coconut water. (My advice: put rice in pan or rice cooker; touch the pad of your index finger on the rice and pour in enough water to come up to the first knuckle.)
Add salt, Thyme, Coconut flakes and boil until done or the rice cooker dings.
Serve rice next to the beans for what the Belizeans call “Beans and Rice”
Belizean Stew Chicken
1 large chicken, cut into 8 pieces
3 tbls red recado paste (see my recipe above)
1 red Habanero , seeded and chopped
salt and pepper to season
1 cup Water
1 tbls Coconut oil
220 gm Brown onions, diced
3 ( 12gm) Garlic cloves, minced
1 red Capsicum, seeded and diced
2 tbls brown Sugar
Dilute the recado paste with water. In a bowl, pour over the chicken pieces and marinade for 30 minutes along with black pepper and salt.
In a heavy based pan, heat the coconut oil and sauté the onion, garlic, Habanero and Capsicum on high heat until translucent. Add the brown sugar and stir continuously until dissolved and dark brown in colour.
Add the chicken, one piece at a time, to the pan, skin side down and brown completely. Avoid overcrowding. If necessary, remove the browed pieces and repeat with the remaining chicken until all are seared and their skins have achieved a nice deep brown colour.
Once complete, combine the recado marinade and the chicken in the pan, cover and cook for 40 minutes until the chicken is tender and the liquid has reduced to a deep mahogany coloured gravy that coats the back of your spoon.
Barbecued Belizean Grilled Fish and Pineapple salsa Burger
1 tsp ground Habanero chilli
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp ground thyme
½ tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbls olive oil
4 small white fish fillets, (I like to use snapper, or grouper)
4 sour Dough rolls
Andrew’s Pineapple Serrano Salsa
1 ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut in ½ cm slices
3 Serrano chillies, stems removed, chopped
2 tbls rice wine vinegar
1 tbls orange juice
2 tsp My Jamaican curry powder
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbls Coriander chopped fresh
In a bowl, combine the Habanero chilli, salt, garlic, thyme, allspice and nutmeg. Brush the fillets with the oil and dust with the spice mixture. Allow to sit at room temperature while you prepare the BBQ grill. Cut the rolls in half length-wise and brush with 1 tbls oil. Grill the fish over medium heat until done, about 5 minutes per side, or until the fillets flake. Grill the rolls to slightly warm.
To make the salsa, grill the pineapple slices or heat in a pan for 5 to 10 minutes until the pineapple is browned. Dice the pineapple. Combine all the ingredients for the salsa, except for the cilantro, and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour to blend the flavours. Toss with the coriander and spread over the fish burgers.
My Belizean Hot Chicken Wings
20 chicken wings
¾ cup Flour
½ cup butter, melted
1 tsp garlic powder
120 ml (½ cup) Jondy Ring Sting
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¾ cup tomato sauce
½ tsp salt
1½ tbls Trinidad Scorpion chilli powder
1 ½ tsp cayenne pepper, separated
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and lightly grease with cooking spray.
Place the flour, 1 tspn cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt into a re-sealable plastic bag, and shake to mix.
Add the chicken wings, seal, and toss until well coated with the flour mixture.
Place the wings onto the prepared baking sheet, and bake for thirty (30) minutes, or until cooked thoroughly and crispy.
2.Reduce oven temperature to 120°C
Whisk together the melted butter and hot sauce, tomato sauce, ½ tspn Trinidad Scorpion chilli powder and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
Dip the wings into the butter mixture, shake off excess sauce and place back on the baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven for fifteen (15) minutes until the sauce on the wings thickens and looks as if it has been set.