Home   >   Articles   >   Five National Dishes of the Caribbean

Five National Dishes of the Caribbean

by Karen Rollins Sep 18, 2023

Share this
Cou cou and flying fish

If you’re a foodie as well as a travel fanatic (like most of us at Yello), you’ll appreciate this guide to five Caribbean islands’ national dishes.

Some of the ingredients might be similar but, as usual, each island has put their spin on it to make each dish special and unique.

If you’re ever lucky enough to visit all five of these Caribbean gems, these meals are guaranteed to give you a genuine ‘taste’ of each country.

Antigua and Barbuda – Fungee and pepperpot

Cornmeal is a staple in many Caribbean dishes and in Antigua it comes in the form of fungee.

Fungee is cornmeal with okras, cooked in salted water and boiled to a paste. It can be eaten either as breakfast or a main meal.

Pepperpot is similar to a meat stew. It’s a combination of various meats including salted beef and pig tail, and includes crushed vegetables such as spinach, eggplant, okra, onions, spices and seasonings, boiled until it has a soup-like consistency.

Barbados – Flying fish and cou cou

Even though flying fish is becoming increasingly scarce due to overfishing in some waters, you’ll still find this national dish in restaurants throughout Barbados.

In fact, flying fish is so synonymous with the island that it can even be found on its one dollar coin.

Cou cou is a variant of fungee, and is traditionally made from cornmeal, flour and okras but can also be made from breadfruit, yam or green banana.

Flying fish is usually steamed or fried in a crispy, light batter and the dish is served with vegetables and gravy.

Jamaica – Ackee and saltfish

Ackee, saltfish and breadfruit

Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica, yet it’s actually native to the tropical forests of West Africa, and is believed to have been brought to the Caribbean sometime in the 18th Century.

Unripe ackee fruit actually contains a poison called hypoglycin, so anyone preparing it must wait until the fruit’s protective pods turn red and open naturally before extracting the yellow centre which surrounds the black, toxic seeds.

When cooked for 15-20 minutes until tender, the ackee fruit resembles scrambled eggs.

Salt fish, also known as codfish, is boiled to extract most of the saltiness, before it is fried with green peppers and onions. This dish is usually served for breakfast with some breadfruit on the side.

St Maarten – Conch and dumplings

This hot and spicy dish is especially popular during Carnival season when it can be found all over the Dutch island.

The conch is pounded and then pressure cooked with seasonings. The dumplings are prepared with flour, and either with or without cornmeal. The thick sauce from the conch and dumplings is used as gravy.

Trinidad and Tobago – Crab and callaloo

Many of the islands have their own versions of callaloo but in Trinidad it’s made extra hot with taro / eddo leaves, okra, crab and salt meat, along with onions, pimento peppers, scotch bonnet, green onions and thyme, all cooked in fresh coconut milk.

The ingredients are boiled into a dark green soupy concoction (similar to Antigua and Barbuda’s pepperpot dish) before being blended into a puree.

Some people insist that the added crab should be kept in its shell in order to maintain the unique taste of the meal.

Sources: Isle and Dine and Caribbean & Co.