Chef's Blog

July 28, 2017

On Course with Caribbean (Sponsored content from Plate Magazine)

from Chef Allan Gazaway

Kitchens of the Caribbean celebrate a history of the world’s flavors and cooking styles. Recipes passed from indigenous people are infused with food influences that can be traced to Colonial, African, and Asian cultures. The islands hold a culinary tradition worth exploring.

Each Caribbean island holds its own distinct styles and recipes. “I love the fresh ingredients of the conch salads of the Bahamas and the cooking styles that mimic the creole recipes from the African influx,” says Minor’s Chef Allan Gazaway. A second- generation chef, Gazaway’s culinary experience includes owning and partnering with restaurants in the Caribbean. He recently created a recipe for traditional Caribbean Chicken Soup that he believes incorporates all the flavors of the Caribbean.

In the soup Gazaway uses authentic ingredient combinations: ginger, tomatoes, cilantro, onions and sweet potatoes. To enhance flavor he adds Minor’s Natural Gluten Free Chicken Base and Roasted Garlic Flavor Concentrate. Adding a touch of Culinary Cream and Dry Roux® creates a velvety smooth texture—while ensuring stability over extended service periods, or when frozen and reheated. “Finishing the dish with a crema, flavored with Minor’s Fire Roasted Jalapeño Flavor Concentrate, gives it that traditional island kick of spice. It’s easier to source and control than the Scotch Bonnet peppers common to the Caribbean,” he says. The soup can be served as a starter/appetizer or entrée.

Caribbean as a style is hard to define. The foods of Puerto Rico may not parallel those of Cuba, the Bahamas or Dominican Republic. Some common ingredients are shared in the way of the Latin-style sofrito. The aromatic purée of peppers, onion, and garlic is a foundation of many Caribbean recipes. A medley of peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro in Minor’s Fire Roasted Poblano Flavor Concentrate mirrors the Puerto Rican version of sofrito—called recaito.

“Its fresh flavor with a hint of char is right on trend. As a ready-to-eat product, it can be used in anything from ceviche and salads, to sauces and marinades,” says Gazaway. Ready to Flavor™ products are tested ready-to-eat. This means they are edible without any additional preparation to achieve food safety. “You can even use them in creams, butters and finishing oils to layer that fresh flavor,” says Gazaway.

While stocks prepared from scratch with fresh ingredients are wonderful, Gazaway says they can also be inconsistent. “Minor’s ready-to-use sauces, flavor concentrates and bases can add fresh, consistent flavor,” says Gazaway. Using Minor’s products also saves time and labor. “Chefs can spend less time sourcing ingredients and more time creating.” He estimates that Minor’s ready-to-eat format saves a chef anywhere from two hours to two days when preparing the same stock or sauce from scratch ingredients. There are also fewer ingredients to store.

Another favorite dish of his is a Caribbean Seafood Salad that combines the flavors of tropical fruit with jerk, citrus and shrimp. To freshen the taste of frozen seafood, Gazaway adds Minor’s Seafood base—featuring sautéed crab, clams, lobster, and fish. “It gives a level of fresh flavor and depth that a frozen product will never have itself.”

Navigating Caribbean cuisine creates many opportunities for layering flavors. Treasures await. Explore dressings, marinades, sauces, spreads, soups, stews, vegetables, fruits and whatever sparks curiosity. Delve into the rich legacy behind each island’s unique Caribbean flavor with recipes from Plate’s Caribbean issue and Minor’s.

by Joanne Costin, Plate Magazine
Copyright Plate Magazine, August 2017
Reprinted by permission

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