My wife and I recently decided to escape the grueling Florida weather, so we took out on a Caribbean excursion. St. Croix, to be exact. Ah, what better way to flee the harshness of these Florida winters! I'm a Florida native, and when it drops below 60 degrees, I become as cold as a brass toilet seat in the Yukon.
We departed the airport on an old yellow aircraft; I laughed and nicknamed it Old Yeller. As we flew over the blue waters of the Atlantic, I began to dream of all the mouthwatering Caribbean treats I would consume upon arrival in St. Croix. The following week would not disappoint! Point Udall had much to offer us as we meandered the bustling little port. Warm bright yellow sun, a salty breeze from crystal clear seas and the smell of delicious Caribbean fare permeated around the bayside docks. From breakfast grub to five-star dinners to late-night appetizers with cocktails. The cuisine of St. Croix wooed me in ways I cannot put into words!
When my career began some time ago at A1A Ale Works in St. Augustine, I became fascinated by Caribbean food and its culture. All the different textures, flavors and colors — wow, I thought to myself, these folks really know and love their cuisine. After years of study and endless encounters with great chefs worldwide, the Caribbean fare has yet to elude my pallet or my heart. What seduces me the most is the passion and love Caribbean inhabitants have for preparing their exquisite dishes. I will always be inspired to recreate the majestic indigenous dishes of the Caribbean, and I hope you will join me in this adventure.
After dining around the beautiful island of St. Croix, we decided to take a break from the tourist life and spent the day fishing with some newly found friends on the magnificent Caribbean Sea. We returned to the docks with most of the fun and exciting day behind us. The captain's mate filleted our catch as we played with the massive school of tarpon that followed us into port. At last, we said our farewells and were off to our humble seaside VRBO abode.
My wife and I had a dinner reservation that evening but felt too tired from all the action earlier in the day. She suggested I prepare something with the day's catch, and I concurred. What’s better than fresh island mackerel tacos on roti bread, rum-filled cocktails and an astounding sunset to finish off an already perfect day!
Now, I know some of you think: Oh no, not another taco recipe. Still, with this fantastic Caribbean spin on it, I promise it will not disappoint! Bon Appetite! And, as always from Taste Catering and BarnYard Farms, I wish you well and God bless!
FRESH ISLAND MACKEREL TACOS
Key lime datil pepper pan-seared island mackerel, rum-pickled red cabbage, mango relish, sweet rainbow radish, sofrito, micro purple basil and fresh roti bread. (Serves 4)
8 oz fresh Island mackerel (substitute your favorite white fish)
2 Tbsp olive oil divided
1 tsp DeaKen Datil (keylime-datil pepper seasoning) *
1/4 head medium red cabbage
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 small rainbow sweet radish
1 medium mango
1/2 cup of sugar + 2 Tbsp sugar
1 large pinch micro white scallions*
1/4 cup spiced rum
1/4 cup passion fruit juice
1/4 cup sofrito divided
4 each roti bread (We like to make our own but you can find roti at your local Island or Indian market.)
1 large pinch + some for garnish micro basil*
Salt and pepper to your liking
1) Get your mise en place together.
2) Pat dry the fish fillet, rub the top side with key lime datil pepper and set aside.
3) Prepare mango relish, small dice mango and micro white scallion, add 1 Tbsp sofrito, 2 Tbsp sugar, 1/4 cup rum and 1/4 cup passion fruit juice. Toss to combine and set aside.
4) Prepare the red cabbage, put oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat, thin slice the cabbage, add to pan, turn heat to high and sautee the cabbage for two minutes. Deglaze with 1/4 cup rum, add 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup juice, 1/2 cup sugar and vinegar, bring to a boil until all the liquid is gone, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
5) Slice radish, set aside.
6) Pan sear fish, heat oil in pan over medium heat, add fish and sear until a nice crust has formed, flip the fish and reduce heat, cook all the way through. While the fish is cooking heat the roti bread in a nonstick pan to your liking. Remove fish and divide into equal portions.
7) Assemble, place roti on a plate, spoon on sofrito, place fish over sofrito, top with pickled cabbage, mango relish, radish and micro basil. Serve with your favorite Caribbean cocktail and enjoy this little piece of the islands!
* Available at www.barnyradfarms.com
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