A trip to the Caribbean may be out of reach for most right now due to pandemic, but you can dream of warm sun, white sand and deep blue sea while sipping a specialty cocktail and enjoying some spicy jerk barbeque. To help facilitate such virtual vacations, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism on Jan. 12 held a Zoom “Cook-and-Sip” event with a noted island chef and mixologist.
Food Network Chef Dylan Benoit walked the participants through a homemade Caribbean jerk paste recipe that can be paired with most any protein, from chicken and shrimp to tofu and pork shoulder. Benoit also demonstrated how to make an easy complementary side dish, Coconut Rice and Beans. He suggested a simple cabbage/carrot/radish coleslaw—lightly dressed with apple cider vinegar and oil—as an additional side.
What to wash it down with? Moises Sevilla, resident mixologist at Cayman Spirits Co., led a quick class in Mojito-making. Specifically, he mixed up a Toasted Coconut Mojito using Toasted Coconut Rum from Hilton Head Distillery, a collaboration partner with Cayman Spirits Co. Sevilla noted that for he would typically use Cayman Spirits’ Seven Fathoms Rum, which ages in American white oak bourbon barrels placed 42 feet—7 fathoms—underwater in a secret location off the Grand Cayman Island’s coast. But the craft amber rum is not widely available.
The Cayman Islands, comprised of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, are located 150 miles south of Cuba, between Mexico and Jamaica. The island group, an overseas territory of the U.K., is known as the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean, and home to a plethora of unique dining options and celebrated chefs. Here are the full recipes from the event.
Toasted Coconut Mojito:
1 ½ oz. Hilton Head Distillery toasted coconut rum
10 sprigs Fresh mint
1 oz. Fresh lime juice
4 oz. Club soda
Lightly press on mint leaves to release aromatics and add into a rocks glass. Add rum, lime juice and fill with ice. Stir well and top with club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig.
Caribbean Jerk Paste:
½ White onion – diced
2 Garlic cloves – smashed
1 tbsp. Whole allspice
½ tsp. Whole cloves
⅓ cup Scotch bonnet sauce
1 cup Soy sauce
1 tbsps. Fresh ginger – diced
4 tbsps. Fresh thyme
1 ½ bunches Scallions – chopped
(Optional) ½ Fresh habanero pepper – chopped
Combine ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Place puree in pot over medium heat and simmer 10 minutes until sauce has thickened and darkened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once cool, use as a rub on choice of protein such as chicken, pork, beef, fish, tofu, etc.
Coconut Rice and Beans:
⅕ White onion – diced
2 Garlic cloves – minced
3-4 sprigs Fresh thyme
2 tbsps. Coconut oil
1 cup Canned kidney beans – undrained
1 cup White rice
1 cup Water
1 cup Coconut milk
1 tsp. Salt
In a medium pot, sweat the chopped onion, garlic and thyme with coconut oil and a pinch of salt. Once translucent, add beans and bring to a simmer. Add the coconut milk, water, rice and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover for 20 minutes.