What to watch for in the Caribbean culinary scene
By Fernando Franco
Every year, I look forward to the emerging food trends because I am always on the lookout for fresh sources of inspiration in my kitchen. These are the top five forecasts that grabbed my attention for 2016.
Seaweed is the new green
The Specialty Food Association’s 2016 Trend Forecast predicts that seaweed, not kale, will be the green vegetable that everyone clamors for on their plates this year. Here’s why: it is chock-full of fiber, antioxidants, iodine and good fats! Seaweed is expected to show up not just in salads but in smoothies, soups, spaghetti and salsas too.
Fresh market shopping days at our favorite Caribbean food stalls may never be the same again, if avocado oil takes off like its counterparts coconut oil and extra virgin oil did in recent times. Pretty soon, all ‘zaboca’ fans may be hard-pressed to find this tasty fruit anywhere, even in its mid-June to September peak season here in Trinidad. Extracted directly from the fruit and not the seed, avocado oil is rich in Vitamin E, unsaturated fats and potassium. A local variety like Pollock, which is more “buttery” in texture, is ideal for the centrifugal separation process.
Rising fears about the growth hormones in farm-raised meat and cancer-scares related to processed foods have forced us chefs to come up with creative plant-based alternatives to meet the changing demands of customers. As a result, menus featuring vegetables as the main course will continue to become more popular. I’d like to think we will see more Trinidadian delights such as our delicious bean and lentil stews, eddoes (tuber) and tomato choka appearing alongside international dishes like sunchoke curries, cauliflower steaks and spicy eggplant.
Zero waste dining
Pundits also predict we will see both fine-dining restaurants and roadside cook shops utilizing more of the less commonly used cuts of meat and every part of our veggies – root-to-stem – in our meals. It’ll be the year of waste not, want not. Popular restaurants are already touting items such as kale stems, broccoli stalks and cabbage cores on their menus.
Going gourmet with everyday items
Taking local street food and transforming it into fancy hors-d’oeuvres where restaurant patrons can enjoy them in business attire without getting their hands soiled, is another growing trend. Trinidad & Tobago is famous for its bake n’ shark so at Hyatt Regency Trinidad, we decided to create a version that was smaller and more elegantly presented for our guests. Our Mini Bake n Shark Skewers can be served with an array of sauces traditionally served with indigenous items such as tamarind sauce, pineapple chutney, Rose sauce, Shadon Beni sauce, just to name a few. It also can be served with cocktails, at conference receptions or when you have friends over for what Trinis like to call a “Lime”.
Mini Bake n Shark Skewers Recipe
Makes 50 1” Circular Bakes
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Yeast
1 tsp Baking Powder
3 tbsp White Sugar
1 pinch Salt
2 tbsp soft butter or lard
1 cup warm water
Mix all ingredients together. Knead light until dough forms a smooth consistency and let rest for 15 minutes. Roll ¼ inch thick and cut into 1 inch circles. Deep fat fry until poof and golden brown
Season Shark with homemade seasoning. We leave this up to you as each one has his or her own unique green seasoning. Dredge in flour and fry.
Skewer Bake then Shark Then Bake again on Bamboo Skewers.
Chef Fernando Franco is the executive chef at the Hyatt Regency in Trinidad.