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 winter-weary folks facilitate such virtual vacations, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism recently 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 you can pair with most any protein, from chicken or shrimp to tofu or pork shoulder. Benoit also demonstrated how to make a complementary side dish, coconut rice and beans. For an additional side, he suggested a simple cabbage/carrot/radish coleslaw lightly dressed with apple cider vinegar and oil.
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 a toasted coconut rum from Hilton Head Distillery, a collaboration partner with Cayman Spirits Co.
Sevilla noted that he likes to use Mojitos Cayman Spirits’ Seven Fathoms rum in Mojitos, but it’s not widely available. The craft amber rum ages in American white oak bourbon barrels placed 42 feet—seven fathoms—underwater in a secret location off the Grand Cayman Island’s coast.
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 Cayman Islands recipes that Benoit and Sevilla shared.
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
- 1 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.
Toasted Coconut Mojito
- 1 ½ oz. Toasted coconut rum
- 10 sprigs Fresh mint
- 1 oz. Fresh lime juice
- 4 oz. Club soda
- In a large mixing glass, lightly press on mint leaves with a muddler or spoon to release aromatics.
- Add press mint, rum and lime juice into a rocks glass and fill with ice.
- Stir well and top with club soda.
- Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.