Friday, May 9, 2014

Inspire New Tastes By Cooking A Different Cuisine... In My Case Caribbean

I recently recovered my beloved papaya mango black bean salad recipe from a class during my cooking school days. I had been meaning to make it with some tweaks and was inspired to cook up a main Caribbean dish to complement it such as Jamaican-style oxtails. These dishes are not something I cook often but I hope this post will inspire you to try your hand at recipes you normally don't cook and to explore new tastes and ingredient combinations. In this case, a vibrant colourful medley of fresh sweet and fruity flavours, with crunchy textures and bite!

Papaya Mango Black Bean Salad
Makes 8 servings (reduce ingredients by half to serve 4)

1 can (540 mL) or 2 cups black beans, drained, rinsed and drained well
1 cup papaya, peeled, seeded and diced
1 cup mango, peeled, seeded and diced
1/3 cup diced red pepper
1/3 cup diced green pepper
2 limes, juice of
1/4 cup canola oil
2 Tbsp. raisins
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. chopped toasted almonds
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 jalapeno or hot red chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped

Choose ripe fruits and vegetables.

Mix the beans, fruits and peppers in a large salad bowl.

Make Ahead TIP: Salad can be made a day ahead, covered and refrigerated.
Mix oil and lime juice and pour onto the salad. Sprinkle with raisins, parsley and almonds. 
Mix well. I serve the diced jalapeno pepper at the table for the family to add themselves.

I found this Jamaican Oxtail recipe in my Toronto Star Cookbook by Jennifer Bain. This page was bookmarked for a while and tonight was a perfect occasion to make it with the salad. Oxtail is a bony beef tail and is tough but becomes soft, tender and flavourful when braised. 

Miss Sonia's Jamaican Oxtail (Co-owner of Diners Corner)
Makes 2 Servings

2 lb. (900 g) oxtail pieces, washed
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 green Scotch bonnet chili, seeded and minced, if desired
2 Tbsp. mushroom soy sauce
2 Tbsp. canola oil (do not need to add if making slowcooker oxtails)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. seasoning salt (purchase this in the bulk store or in a shaker at a store.)
4 sprigs thyme
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups water
Look for this cut in Asian supermarkets and butcher shops.  
In a large bowl, toss the oxtail with ingredients up to black
pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Add oxtail mixture to a large pot and add the water. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce
the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered until the oxtail is tender, about two hours.
Discard the thyme sprigs and serve the oxtail with its gravy over steamed rice.


The kids enjoyed the oxtails and the gravy over rice, but they were hesitant with the black beans. They picked those out and ate the papaya and mango. I served a side of roasted broccoli and fresh cut-up pineapples to add to the Caribbean theme. 

Caribbean is a cuisine I will definitely cook up again- gorgeous and delicious!!!

Flip through food magazines or borrow some International cookbooks from the library to inspire you to try your hands and taste buds in a new cuisine and to add to your recipe repertoire! You never know, it may just turn out to be a household favourite- one you'll make time and time again! Here are some of my International recipes to try: Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps, Vietnamese Shrimp and Pork Rolls, or Thai Basil Noodles with Peanut Sauce. Happy discovery and cooking!

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