This is a picture-perfect representation of what the Cayman Islands have to offer: stunning warm turquoise waters, sugary white sand beaches, and trees swinging in the breeze. However, the islands are best renowned for being the Caribbean’s culinary epicenter. This is a culinary heaven, with almost every dish featuring a scotch bonnet.
Here’s a list of the 15 Caymanian foods you should try:
1. Marinated Conch
The shells, with their tubular pink and white shine and polished appearance, are valued equally to the flesh inside. The shell is smashed with a hammer to release the salty and sweet meat inside, which has a flavor similar to clams but with a meatier and chewier texture.
Sliced raw conch, onions, bell peppers, scotch bonnets, lime juice, pickapeppa sauce, and ketchup are all ingredients in the salad known as “marinated conch.” After being mixed together, the ingredients are marinated for a few hours and then cooled; toast or salty crackers are served on top.
2. Cayman-style Beef
Most Caymanians look forward to this feast all year long. All beef parts are combined and cooked with full scotch bonnets, onions, garlic, spiced peppers, black pepper, and salt. The beef is then slowly cooked for some hours in its own juices in a big pot until it is juicy and tender. After that, it is shredded and put on a plate with rice or a root vegetable like sweet potatoes or cassava.
3. Jerk Chicken
A Jamaican classic, it. Jerk chicken, which is marinated in a mixture of spices and seasonings including ginger, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, brown sugar, fresh thyme, scallions, soy sauce, and, of course, scotch bonnet peppers, has a hint of fire, smoke, char, and sweetness. The chicken is cooked to juicy perfection after being placed over a smoky grill.
4. Saltfish Fritters
Utilizing whitefish that has been dried and preserved in salt, typically snapper or grouper, is a centuries-old tradition. The saltfish is dehydrated in water overnight, shredded, and combined with flour, onions, tomatoes, scallions, garlic, and Scotch bonnet peppers in a batter. Then it’s fried, turned over, and you’re off. It is frequently offered as an appetizer or during breakfast. It has a crunchy exterior and an incredibly flavorful interior.
5. Johnny Cake
The catch of the day is fried in a thin batter till crispy before being served with rice and beans, fries, slices of lime, jerk or scotch bonnet sauce, and rice and beans. Johnny cakes are fried sweet and salty bread that aren’t actually cakes but are a great complement to any fish fry. You can tempt fate and order a plate of fried barracuda, a local delicacy that, if it’s longer than three feet, may contain naturally occurring toxins from the sea. But don’t worry; Cayman has you covered.
6. Lionfish Ceviche
Lionfish is simply marinated in lime juice, red onions, spiced peppers, fresh cilantro, and sea salt before being scooped up with some salty, crunchy plantain chips. The meat of the lionfish is incredibly sweet. With every taste of this special cuisine, you’ll feel good about helping to save the ocean.
7. Cayman Lobster
The shells of raw lobster are removed, and the meat is cooked with other ingredients, including scotch bonnet peppers, pickapeppa sauce, peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and fresh lime juice. This straightforward but delicious lobster feast is a genuine delight when simmered and served with rice and peas, sautéed veggies, or sopped up with crunchy bread.
Rundown is slang for “nice and slow,” which is exactly how this dish is prepared. Rundown is a flavorful soup made with fresh tomatoes, coconut cream and milk, onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, pimentos, scotch bonnets, and local pumpkin that has been slowly simmered down to create a thick and creamy broth. Typically, fish is added to leftovers for lunch or dinner, and fish, mackerel, and bananas are cooked together for a filling breakfast.
9. Pepper Jelly
Due to the intense pepper vapors that escape while cutting and boiling the peppers, the best pepper jelly in Cayman is prepared by a woman who prepares her secret recipe in her home kitchen while wearing a snorkel. Scotch bonnet peppers, red bell peppers, seasoning peppers, sugar, vinegar, salt, garlic, onions, pimento, nutmeg, and cloves are the components in this very addictive jelly, which is then cooked and cooled to create a sweet, sour, spicy, and tart pepper jelly.
10. Crab Back
Locals hunt for crabs in the mangroves at night while walking down the side of the road with buckets and flashlights in quest of these prized crabs. After being captured, they are fed mangoes for a few days to clean their systems and make the flesh more flavorful. The meat from the cooked and cracked crabs is then combined with a concoction of scotch bonnets, scallions, onions, garlic, and fresh herbs. The term “crab back” refers to the process of stuffing the crab into its shell. Add some crunchy bread crumbs on top, then bake it in the oven until it is brown and delicious.
11. Turtle Stew
On Grand Cayman, eating a turtle has traditionally been considered a delicacy. Both natives and daring visitors love it. Visit a farm where turtles are grown for meat and enjoy some turtle stew. It frequently comes with rice and beans or perhaps with a side of plantains and coleslaw.
12. Fruit Cake
British colonists who missed home over the holidays introduced Christmas fruit cake to the Cayman Islands, where it has become a long-standing custom. Dates, raisins, currants, and prunes are cut up and steeped in rum for months to make the base of a fruit cake. A rich spice cake that has been baked with the fruits is then poked with a fork and doused in extra rum.
The finest location to try the original of this chilly, sweet cocktail is still Grand Cayman, where it was created in the 1980s. The mudslide started out as a creative substitution for a white Russian, made with vodka, coffee-flavored liqueur, and Irish cream.
14. Coconut Shrimp
There are many delectable seafood meals to choose from in Cayman, and coconut shrimp is a local delicacy. This dish, which is deep-fried and dusted with coconut flakes, is not one to pass up.
15. Cassava Cake (Heavy Cake)
Cassava is a root vegetable that’s native to Central and South America but is fairly common throughout the tropics. Cassava cake (or heavy cake), which is made with coconut milk, sugar, and other spices for a deep, sweet flavor, is regarded as a classic Caymanian delicacy.
So these were the best of the dishes of Caymanian cuisine. If you want some adventure or just love trying out something unique, Cayman is the place to go!