Assignment 50: Antigua and Barbuda

AnB mapLocation: The Caribbean
Population: 101,000
Capital: St John’s
Geography: Two main islands and a collection of islets, mostly consisting of sandy soil and limestone
Language: English
Signature flavours: Seafood, rice, coconut, corn, thyme, banana, sugarcane

The Menu

Here we are at assignment 50! It’s hard to believe we’ve cooked so many meals from around the world since November 2017. The more we cook, the more we find familiar ingredients that once sounded strange, and the more our cupboards fill with these international culinary delights.

Eric found plenty of online recipes for pan-Caribbean cuisine, and some good blogs featuring Antiguan and Barbudan recipes in particular. He wanted to include a lobster recipe, as he learned that Barbuda is a great place for lobster — spiny lobster especially. Barbuda was flattened by Hurricane Irma last year, and with 95% of the infrastructure gone, the population of the island has been removed to Antigua. Hopefully rebuilding efforts will lead to more lobster being eaten in Barbuda someday.

AnB plate
Fungie (centre) with chop-up and coconut rice

Fungie: A staple of the country: cornmeal and okra porridge, with onion, garlic, and thyme.

Prep and cooking time: 2 hours
Difficulty: 4/5

Coconut Rice: Rice cooked in coconut milk instead of water, and flavoured with thyme.

Prep and cooking time: 30 min
Difficulty: 2/5

Chop Up: A stir-fry consisting of bell peppers, eggplant, tomato, onions, and blanched spinach, spiced with cayenne and chilli pepper. In Antigua and Barbuda, this can be thrown together using what vegetables are on hand, often using callaloo instead of spinach.

Prep and cooking time: 30 min
Difficulty: 2/5

AnB lobster

Lobster au Gratin: Shredded lobster meat served in a creamy cheese, white wine, and shallot sauce.

Prep and cooking time: 30 min
Difficulty: 2/5

AnB banana

Baked Bananas: Bananas smothered in a milk, butter, and brown sugar sauce, and then baked until caramelized.

Prep and cooking time: 30 min
Difficulty: 2/5

The Shopping List

Eric was glad to find our cupboard and fridge well-stocked from previous assignments. He just needed some lobster meat (from St Lawrence’s Seafront Market) and some produce from our local supermarket.

AnB bowls

The Meal

Eric shaped the fungie into domes and surrounded it with brightly-coloured chop-up and creamy coconut rice on the plate. We both tried the fungie first. It was mildly savoury, with a sticky density and a green hue from the okra mixed in. I liked it immediately, and even Eric, who finds whole okra unpleasantly slimy, enjoyed it in fungie form.

The rice was creamy and sprinkled with thyme, and very coconut-y, having been cooked entirely without water, in just coconut milk. It was slightly undercooked, and Eric commented that it could have used some water mixed in. He used high quality coconut milk which contained more solids than liquids, and attributed this to the rice being a bit crunchier than desired.

AnB chop

The chop-up had a lovely, fresh taste, and went well alongside the fungie. This dish is a typical side, often served with fungie and a seafood main.

AnB lob pan

The lobster au gratin blew me away with its intense, cheesy flavour, and chunks of juicy lobster meat. Eric served it topped with lime and parsley inside sun-bleached clamshells we collected earlier this summer in Prince Edward Island.

We finished our feast with baked bananas, dripping in caramel-y sauce. They were still warm inside, sweet and starchy, with their delicious sugary coat.

Links
http://www.foodanddrink-antigua.com/recipes/lobster-au-gratin-served-with-fresh-coconut-milk-rice/
https://www.newsamericasnow.com/caribbean-recipe-of-the-week-chop-up/
https://www.thespruceeats.com/cornmeal-cou-cou-2138197

Disclaimer: I’m not a professional chef. I’m just a passionate cook with a curiosity for flavours I’ve never tried. For great recipes from gifted local cooks, follow the links above.

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