When I’m cooking my homegrown island recipes sometimes it’s very difficult to find the right ingredients that make the dish sing. I can’t see fugee cooked without some okra or my mom’s lip smacking pepper pot without the medley of greens and meat that has this dish always making me think of home!
So, I figured out that I can coax flavors out by using some frozen products and dry seasonings. Find items that has the texture or close to taste and bring it the rest of the way by combining items. See. The best tamarind stew ball is made with fresh tamarinds but sometimes I can’t find them or get them sent to me. Using the bottle syrup found in Asian grocery stores combining it with various spices in a pot under a low flame then rolling in sugar. Well! I smell and taste my younger days.
Some of the island fruits that I use for my drinks and dishes I need to get them while in-season and even then they can be a bit expensive because they’re consider “exotic.” I miss just going in the backyard for sugerapple, sour sop and star fruit. The main thing in saving cost is to find a market that will provide some of these items that you will cut, peel and open yourself. Getting it already prepped may save time but cost even more.
I’m still experimenting with substitutes to maintain the right texture, flavor, and look of food & drinks. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, while other times I’ve created a new dish that speaks to me like the trade winds bringing fresh breeze to a parched land.