Caribbean Food Terms and Tips
Jerk: A cooking method that originated with the Arawak Indians of Jamaica. Traditionally for chicken or pork, but now commonly used on all types of food. Traditionally the food was placed in a pit and smoked. The term "jerked" meant poked with a sharp object. The holes were filled with spices. Today's version of jerked, is generally heavily marinated food cooked long and slow emphasizing the flavor of the spices.
Boniatos: A tuber that looks like a sweet potato, but larger and sweeter.
Mojo: Formerly the description of a voodoo potion, it became the name of a spicy sauce, usually made of garlic, citrus, oil and herbs.
Plantain: A fruit closely related to the banana, but whose higher
starch and lower sugar content make it suitable for savory cooking; a native of Central America, the plantain is usually larger than the banana but is sometimes short and fat, with green, deep red, or yellow skin.
HOW TO CUT A PAPAYA: Skin with a vegetable peeler or knife. Cut off stem and root ends, split in half (like halving a cantaloupe). Scoop out the black seeds in the center cavity (as you would the seeds in a cantaloupe). Dice or slice and eat.
HOW TO CUT A MANGO: Skin with a vegetable peeler or knife. Slice off root end so mango can stand on end. Stand on end and locate seed. With a sharp knife, follow shape of seed, shaving down against it. Do the same on the other sides until seed can be discarded. Dice or slice the remaining flesh.
HOW TO CUT A SUGAR CANE STALK: Holding the stalk upright, force the blade of your knife down and through the stalk to the end, splitting it in half. Repeat with each half, and again with each quarter. No need to peel. Whittle the ends of the stalks into points and poke the stalks all over with the knife tip to release the flavors.