I arrived in Tobago on Sunday night, the warm, moist air welcoming me as I stepped off the airplane and onto the tarmac. I fairly well zoomed through immigration and customs and then waited for Corinne to arrive. She drove the 10 odd miles from the airport to her condo in a complex by the beach in the Lowlands. I was tired, but ravenous, so Corinne offered me some chicken pastelles she had saved especially for me. It is a traditional Christmas dish that is a tamale-like creation stuffed with a variety of fillings and steamed in a banana leaf. It was delightful, with a subtle but unusual combination of flavors like capers and raisins. We drank some red wine I had brought with me, one of our favorite cheapies that I bought in Salem, Gato Negro Cabernet Merlot from Chile. She also shared a traditional Christmas dessert, rum cake which was just the perfect finish to the meal.
The following morning for breakfast, we went for bake and shark, a local favorite sandwich consisting of battered and fried shark meat in bake, a fried bread resembling a large dinner roll that is hollow inside allowing the shark and a variety of sauces and chutneys to be stuffed in prior to eating. Unfortunately, the little shop we ordered them from was out of chutneys, but even with the garlic and hot sauces they had, it was quite good and filling. We sat on a bench near the beach and took in the beautiful scenery. It was there that Corinne suggested that I start blogging about the food of Tobago, an idea that I love.
Today for lunch, we ordered curried crab with dumplings, another local favorite available year round. Corinne was disappointed that her favorite place was closed, but another reputable shop soon filled our order and we took our take away back to the condo to eat or rather devour it.
The crab is laborious to eat, but well worth the effort. I believe it may be the tastiest thing I’ve ever eaten and I don’t say things like this lightly. The crab meat was unbelievably flavorful and sweet, perfectly complimented by the curry sauce. The dumplings, although not really flavorful themselves, served as a way to sop up the wonderful sauce. I’m including a recipe Corinne has in a cookbook called The Multi-Cultural Cuisine of Trinidad & Tobago & the Caribbean written by the Naparima Girls’ High School. I don’t know if this is the recipe the shop used, but it would probably get you close.
- 4 large crabs
- 2 tbsp. margarine
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 tbsp. mixed green seasoning *
- 1/2 tsp. fresh or ground ginger
- 2 tbsp. curry powder
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp. salt or to taste
- hot pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup of water or more
- Clean crab and cut into sections.
- Heat margarine and saute onion, garlic, green seasoning and ginger.
- Mix curry with coconut milk and add to onion and garlic; cook for a minute.
- Add crab, salt, pepper and water; bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes.
- Cover tightly, lower heat and cook 25-30 minutes; add more water if needed.
- Adjust salt and pepper
- Serve with dumplings (see recipe below.)
* You won’t likely find this sauce outside of the Caribbean, but here is a recipe I found online.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup milk or water
- Combine flour, baking powder and salt.
- Stir in milk or water; dough should be soft enough to be dropped from spoon.
- Drop spoonfuls of dough on hot stew mixture.
- Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.