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chiktay stuffed plantain cups

This Smoked Herring and Green Plantains Appetizer is Haiti in One Bite

This vibrant appetizer — full of plenty flavourful ingredients — is “Haiti in one bite,” says Nahika Hillery.  “Smoked herring (aranso) and green plantains are staples in our cuisine. They’re versatile ingredients and found in many other popular Haitian dishes,” Nahika says. “Can’t find smoked herring? No problem. ‘Chiktay’ means to shred and you can shred any cooked fish or meat to use in this recipe (just skip the desalting) and still enjoy the bold Haitian flavours.”


Chiktay Aranso Stuffed Plantain Cups

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

4-6 smoked herring
½ cup olive oil
1 finely diced carrot
1 finely diced red onion
1 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 cup finely diced orange bell pepper
2 finely chopped Scotch bonnet chiles (including the seeds), plus 1 whole Scotch bonnet chile
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 whole cloves
1 tsp chicken bouillon powder or to taste
½ tsp adobo seasoning (optional based on saltiness of herring)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 sprig fresh thyme
Roughly chopped fresh parsley
3 Tbsp lime juice
3 cups frying oil
2 green plantains
Kosher salt
Finely diced tomato, finely diced avocado and sour cream, for garnish (optional)

Equipment:

Tostonera (plantain press), optional

chiktay stuffed plantain cups

Directions:

1. Remove the saltiness of the herring by placing it in a bowl of cold water and allowing it to soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the water, then place the herring in a pot of water and boil for 10 to 15 minutes. The herring should taste no more than mildly salty; if it is still salty, boil for another 5 minutes and drain. Shred the herring with 2 forks, removing any large bones.

Tip: Salt is used to preserve smoked herring, so desalting is crucial to avoid an overly salty dish.

2. Pour the olive oil into a large skillet and set over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and red onions and cook, covered, for 2 minutes. Add the green pepper, red pepper, orange pepper and chopped Scotch bonnet chiles and cook, covered, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook an additional minute.

Related: Last-Minute Party Appetizers That Are Beyond Easy

3. Add the shredded herring. Puncture the whole Scotch bonnet chile with the 2 cloves and add it to the skillet. Add the chicken bouillon, adobo seasoning, garlic powder, thyme, some parsley and lime juice. Mix everything well. Cover and let cook down for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Discard the whole Scotch bonnet and thyme sprig.

4. Pour the frying oil into a large skillet and set over medium-high heat. Peel the plantains and cut each into 4 to 5 pieces. Fry the pieces until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Remove from the pan and press each piece of plantain flat; you can use a plantain press or the bottom of a small heavy pan or a plate. Mold the plantains into cup shapes (you can use a lemon squeezer or a tostonera with a rounded shape). Carefully fry the plantain cups again for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the cups on a paper towel-lined plate or on a wire rack and sprinkle lightly with salt (optional).

Related: Top Pescatarian Dinner Ideas That Make Seafood the Star

Tip: Green plantains, not ripe ones, are best to use to create sturdy cups.

5. Fill the fried plantain cups with the smoked herring mixture. Garnish with diced tomato, avocado and sour cream if using and enjoy!

Like this recipe? Try this Guyanese roti or Peruvian cebiche.

Tangy Sauce and Sofrito Are a Tasty Team With These Puerto Rican Skewers

Do certain aromas transport you back to another time and place in the most delicious way? For Yimara “Yia” Medina, the scent of grilled pinchos — marinated chunks of pork or chicken on a stick, traditionally served with a slice of warm bread — is like a passport to happy childhood days in Puerto Rico.

“It’s one of the island’s most popular street foods — and some of my favourite childhood memories are of sitting and talking or dancing around by my cousin’s roadside pinchos stand,” Yia says. “There are lots of versions of pinchos, but what I think makes this recipe especially good is the use of sofrito, the magical Puerto Rican blend of herbs and aromatics that’s the base of some of our tastiest dishes. Sofrito is easy to make yourself or you can buy it premade.”

Related: The Very Best Ways to Devour Street Food Around The World

Pinchos

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 12 hours
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 12 hours, 20 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

½ cup sofrito
⅓ cup olive oil
1 ½ Tbsp sazon
1 ½ Tbsp adobo seasoning
1 ½ tsp onion powder
1 ½ tsp granulated garlic
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 ½ lbs pork tenderloin, cut into 2-inch cubes
¼ cup BBQ sauce
1 loaf bread, sliced 1 ½-inch thick

Equipment:

12- to 14-inch skewers

Related: 10 Veggie-Forward Grilled Skewers and Kebabs to Try This Summer

Directions:

1. Combine the sofrito, oil, sazon, adobo, onion powder, granulated garlic and black pepper in a large bowl. Add the pork and toss to coat. Marinate the meat at least overnight or 12 hours for best results.

2. When ready to cook, remove the meat from the refrigerator. Drain off and discard the marinade. Preheat a grill to 450ºF or medium-high heat. Thread the meat onto 12- or 14-inch skewers, leaving a 3-inch space at the bottom of each skewer.

3. Place the skewers on the grill and grill for 3 minutes. Carefully flip the skewers and grill the other side for 3 minutes. Flip the skewers again and cook for an additional 2 minutes on the other side, then brush the pinchos with BBQ sauce. Flip once more and cook until the pinchos are browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the pork registers 145ºF, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the grill, brush again with BBQ sauce and rest 5 minutes before serving. Toast the slices of bread on the grill; skewer one slice onto the top of each pincho.

Are you a newbie to the grill? This guide to the perfect grilling times and temperatures is a great place to start!

Closeup of crispy octopus and mahi mahi cebiche

Crispy, Crunchy Octopus Tops Tangy Citrus Cebiche in This Fresh Peruvian Dish

Cebiche — also known as ceviche — was born in Peru, and the fresh, acid-cooked seafood dish takes on many delicious iterations all around the world. Inspired by a version of that’s popular in Lima, this cebiche recipe from Julio-Cesar Florez is topped with crispy, golden-fried octopus — which delivers the perfect warm crunch to contrast with the tasty cold fish. The fish itself (you can go with striped bass, longfin yellowtail or even mahi mahi — just make sure it’s fresh!) is soaked in a tangy liquid that Peruvians call “leche de tigre,” or “tiger’s milk.” Some see leche de tigre as an aphrodisiac or a hangover cure, while others just see it as delicious! However you think of it, be sure to pick up your bowl and sip the delicious liquid up when you’re done eating the fish.

Related: Top Pescatarian Dinner Ideas That Make Seafood the Star

Cebiche Carretillero

Active Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients:
Soybean oil, for deep frying
3 oz boiled octopus, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 ½ tsp garlic puree
All-purpose flour, for coating
Kosher salt
1 tsp minced aji limo or other hot chile pepper
1 tsp finely chopped cilantro
5 oz very fresh fish fillet; striped bass, almaco jack (longfin yellowtail) and mahi mahi are good choices
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
Lettuce leaves, for serving
1 sweet potato, boiled, peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick slices
Boiled choclo kernels (see Cook’s Note), for serving
Cancha corn (see Cook’s Note), for serving
1 red onion, cut into thin strips and soaked in a bowl of cold water

Special Equipment: a deep fryer (optional), deep-fry thermometer

Related: This Zingy Edamame Tofu Brings the Fresh Flavours of Japan to Your Table

Directions:
1. Heat a few inches of oil in a deep fryer or small heavy pot set over medium-high heat until it reaches 350ºF on a deep-fry thermometer. Put the pieces of octopus in a bowl and toss with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the garlic puree. Place flour in a shallow bowl and coat the pieces of octopus evenly with flour. Shake off the excess flour, place the octopus in the oil and fry until golden. Drain on a rack or paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.

2. Combine the aji limo, cilantro, remaining 1 teaspoon garlic puree and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl and mash with the bottom of a spoon. Cut the fish into 1/2-inch-thick slices and place in the bowl with the aji limon. Sprinkle the fish with salt and toss to coat evenly. Set aside for 2 minutes, then add the lime juice and toss again.

3. Line a plate with lettuce leaves. Place the sweet potato, choclo kernels and cancha on one side. Next to it, place the cebiche, along with the liquid in the bowl (”leche de tigre”). Top with drained strips of red onion and fried octopus and enjoy.

Cook’s Note: Cebiche is not a dish eaten very cold; it tastes better when the ingredients are room temperature, so don’t worry about chilling the ingredients or the plates it’s served on. Choclo corn is a Peruvian variety with very large kernels, often sold boiled and frozen. Cancha corn is a kind of toasted corn similar to corn nuts. You can buy both types of corn in some larger supermarkets and in grocery stores catering to Peruvian or South American customers, or find them online.

Can’t get enough fresh seafood? These chef-approved tips will help you always buy the best catch.

Stack of Guyanese roti on a plate

Want Layers of Flavour? This Flaky, Crunchy Guyanese Roti is a Meal-Time Must-Try

It’s a truth (nearly) universally acknowledged that bread on the table makes a meal more delicious, but this mouth-watering spin on a global staple is sure to elevate your table — whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. While North Americans generally think of roti as an Indian food, the traditional flatbread is also a Caribbean staple. In this Guyanese-style twist on roti from Tavel Bristol-Joseph and Kevin Fink, Sonora flour (a nutrient-rich milled grain) adds tons of texture and bite to each crunchy, flaky morsel.

“Roti is an Indian flatbread that’s enjoyed around the world,” says Tavel. “In places, including the Caribbean, it’s traditionally eaten with curry or other types of stew. In this recipe, I make it with a combination of all-purpose flour and Sonora flour, a flour made from one of North America’s oldest wheat varieties.”

Related: Caribbean Recipes That Will Liven Your Dinner Table

Sonora Flour Roti

Active Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 5 roti

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups white Sonora flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup plus 3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for oiling and frying
¼ cup melted unsalted butter

Related: Can’t Find Yeast? You’ll Love These Yeast-Free Bread Recipes

Directions:
1. Mix the all-purpose flour, Sonora flour, baking powder and salt by hand in a large bowl.

2. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in 3 tablespoons of the oil and 1 1/2 cups water. Mix together until fully incorporated and you can form a dough ball. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

3. Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces, each weighing about 120 grams. Form each piece into a ball. Lightly oil a rolling pin and a work surface. Roll each ball out into a circle about 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Combine the melted butter and the remaining 1/4 cup oil in a small bowl. Brush the rounds with the mixture.

4. One at a time, make a cut from the centre of a round out. Roll the round up like a cone. Take the tip of the cone and push down towards centre. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Refrigerate the dough for 10 minutes or up to 12 hours.

5. Place a piece of dough on a lightly oiled cutting board and press down on it with your palm until it’s an even circle 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Heat a 9- or 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to cover the bottom. When the skillet is very hot but not smoking, add a roti. Cook until the bottom is golden brown and air pockets start to form, about 3 minutes. Flip and brown the other side. After each roti is cooked, place it in a bowl, cover with a lid and shake the bowl up and down. This creates texture in the roti. Repeat with the remaining roti, adding more oil to the skillet as necessary. Serve hot.

Cook’s Note: It’s important to shake the roti in an up-and-down motion while the roti is hot.

Want to try more takes on flatbread? This vegan za’atar manaeesh is full of flavour.

Chef Deepa Shridhar prepares Roasted Nati Koli Saaru, as seen on Food Network's Taste Of, Season 2

Toasted Spices and Creamy Coconut Make This South Indian Chicken a Comfort Classic

Traditional dishes don’t become iconic by accident. Classic recipes become part of a culture by getting passed down through the years and around the world — a phenomenon that you’ll be grateful for if you’ve never tried the rich, spicy bite of nati koli saaru. In this version, chef and founder of Podi House, Deepa Shridhar, makes this South Indian marinated chicken dish ultra savoury with a bath of coconut milk, a mix of toasted spices and jaggery — a variety of caramelized cane sugar that can be found in your local Indian grocery store.

“There are many versions of nati koli saaru, some written, most verbally communicated from one generation to the next,” says Deepa. “It’s classically a South Indian/Kannadiga dish, spicy and rich with chunks of chicken meat. This recipe is based on a version I enjoyed in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) and brings to it techniques I use in my own supper clubs and pop-ups. Here I take the flavours to a whole roasted butterflied chicken. I call for crushed tomatoes, but I also love using fermented tomatoes instead for depth and tang. This is a great dish to pair with rice, or dosa, and perfect for a dinner party.”

Related: 20 Recipes From Around the World That’ll Help Fill Your Travelling Void

Roasted Nati Koli Saaru

Active Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 14 hours (includes marinating time)
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

Chicken and Marinade
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 ½ tsp black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
1 cup shredded coconut
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
5 to 7 cloves garlic, depending on size, peeled
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp jaggery
2 Tbsp coarse sea salt crystals
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
4 to 5 jalapenos
Juice of 1 small lime
One 4-to-5-lb chicken, butterflied (see Cook’s Note)

Sauce
¼ cup neutral oil (sunflower or grapeseed work great)
1 yellow or white onion, sliced
2 sprigs curry leaves
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp Kashmiri red chili powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
One 13 1/2-ounce can coconut milk
Salt
1/2 lime
Cilantro, for garnish
Cooked jasmine rice, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving

Roasted Nati Koli Saaru on rice

Related: Indian-Inspired Breakfast Recipes to Spice Up Your Morning Routine

Directions:
1. For the chicken and the marinade: Place a medium cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add the sesame oil. Add the fenugreek, cumin, black peppercorns and cloves and toast for about 30 seconds. Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit in the hot skillet for another 30 seconds, and then transfer to a mini food processor. Return the skillet to medium-low heat and add the shredded coconut to the skillet. Stir until toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the mini food processor. Add the ginger, garlic, cinnamon, jaggery, salt and cilantro to the processor.

2. Place the same skillet the spices cooked in over medium-heat heat (no need to add any more oil). Add the jalapenos and cook until blistered and charred. Plunge the jalapenos into a bowl of cold water. Peel the jalapenos and discard the stems. Add to the processor with the spices. Add the lime juice and process until the mixture forms a thick paste, adding a little water if necessary to get a smooth texture.

3. Place the chicken in a baking dish or other container large enough so the chicken will lay flat. Rub the bird all over with the marinade, cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours or overnight.

4. When it is about 2 to 3 hours before serving, make the sauce: Place a large cast-iron pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil and onion. Move the onions to one side and add the butterflied chicken, skin-side down. Add the curry leaves when the onions start to sizzle. Once you have a good sear on your chicken, carefully flip it over. Add the tomatoes, chili powder, turmeric, coconut milk and 1 1/2 cups water and stir together. Lower the heat and simmer the sauce for 15 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Pop the dish into the oven. Check every 20 minutes; you are looking for the chicken to start to break down, the sauce to thicken and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh not touching bone to register 165ºF.

6. Taste the sauce and add salt if needed. Finish with the juice of half a lime. Garnish with more cilantro and serve with rice and limes wedges on the side.

Cook’s Note: Butterflying, also called spatchcocking, involves removing the backbone of a chicken so that it lays flat. A butcher can do this for you, or you can do it yourself: Using kitchen shears or a heavy knife, cut down around either side of the backbone and lift it out. Turn the chicken breast-side up and press down very firmly on the breast with both palms until you hear a crack and the chicken flattens.

Want to add more Indian flavours to your dinner table? These easy Indian recipes are better than takeout.

Overhead shot of edamame tofu topped with ginger and cherry tomatoes

This Zingy Edamame Tofu Brings the Fresh Flavours of Japan to Your Table

You already know that tofu is an incredibly versatile ingredient, but did you know how easy (and delicious) it is to make at home? With this surprisingly simple, flavour-packed Taste Of recipe, chef Yoshi Okai combines edamame beans, gelatin and soy to create a super-light and creamy homemade tofu. Topped with ginger, ponzu and cherry tomatoes, this beautiful dish is like a portal to summer days in Kyoto.

“This dish reminds me of summers of my childhood,” says Yoshi. “The fresh tofu made from green soybeans can be dressed up by serving it topped with luxury ingredients, or a simpler version, like this one, can easily be prepared at home. It can be served as a meal in itself, or as an appetizer for a larger meal. Mushimono means ‘steamed’ in Japanese, but here refers to the way the tofu cools and sets.”

Related: The Most Creative Ways to Increase Your Protein Intake This Month

Edamame Tofu Mushimono

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:
200 g shelled edamame
200 mL dashi (or other broth)
3 g agar-agar powder
7 g powdered gelatin
400 mL soy milk, at room temperature or a little warm
12 whole cherry tomatoes, sliced
Small piece fresh ginger, grated (about 1/2 tsp)
Leaves from 1 bunch cilantro, for serving
Ponzu, for serving
Olive oil, for serving
Flaked sea salt, for serving

Related: Fried Pork Belly Pairs Perfectly With Crunchy Papaya Salad in This Traditional Thai Dish

Directions:

1. To make the edamame tofu, combine the edamame, 100 milliliters broth and 50 milliliters water in a blender and puree. Set aside.

2. Combine the remaining 100 milliliters broth, agar-agar and 100 milliliters water in a pot and bring to a simmer, stirring to combine and activate the agar. In a cup, combine 50 milliliters water and the gelatin. Add that gelatin solution to the pot; keep the mixture at a simmer. Add the soy milk to the pot. Add the edamame puree to the pot. Keep simmering until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes.

3. Pour the mixture into a shallow rectangular 8-by-8-inch dish and let sit until room temperature, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

4. After the tofu has set and is firm, slice it into 16 portions and garnish with tomato, ginger and cilantro leaves. Finish with a drizzle of ponzu, olive oil and flaked sea salt.

Cook’s Note: Have all the ingredients at room temperature before starting this dish. If the tofu is not cooked long enough, it won’t firm up. Allow it to firm up fully before cutting it!

Looking for more easy meat-free meal ideas? These make-ahead vegetarian recipes will liven up your dinner table.

Fresh Northern Thai papaya salad and crispy fried pork belly

Fried Pork Belly Pairs Perfectly With Crunchy Papaya Salad in This Traditional Thai Dish

We may not be able to travel right now, but you can still send your taste buds on a flight to northern Thailand with this Taste Of recipe from Lakana Sopajan-Trubiana. Spicy, crunchy and full of flavour, this papaya salad pairs perfectly with salty fried pork belly.

“This is the style of papaya salad we make at home on our family rice farm in Isaan in northeastern Thailand,” says Lakana. “It’s different from the Bangkok ‘big city’ version: it’s funkier and more pungent from the addition of fermented fish sauce and salted crab. Traditionally, the salad is eaten with grilled or fried meat. Here we pair it with pork belly; the crunch and tang of the salad cuts the heaviness of the pork and balances out the dish.”

Related: Delicious Thai Takeout Recipe to Try This Week

Isaan Papaya Salad With Fried Pork Belly

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

Som Tom (Papaya Salad)
4 to 10 fresh Thai bird chiles, depending on taste
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp palm sugar
½ cup halved grape tomatoes
3 Tbsp fermented fish sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp tamarind juice
2 slices lime
2 cups shredded young green papaya
¼ cup shredded carrot
¼ cup salted crab

Fried Pork Belly
¼ cup fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 ¼ lbs pork belly, cut crossways into ½-inch-thick slices
2 ½ cups tempura flour
Canola oil, for frying

Equipment:

Large mortar and pestle (optional)

Fresh Northern Thai papaya salad and crispy fried pork belly

Related: Ground Pork Recipes You’ll Make On Repeat

Directions:

1. For the som tom (papaya salad): combine the chiles, garlic and palm sugar in a large mortar and bash with a pestle until it forms a coarse paste, 2 to 5 minutes. (You can also combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and use gloved hands to break, shred and mash the ingredients together). Add the tomatoes, fermented fish sauce, fish sauce, tamarind juice and limes and mix well. Add the papaya, carrot and salted crab and mix gently.

2. For the fried pork belly: combine the fish sauce, sugar and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Add the pork and massage the ingredients into the meat. Refrigerate 15 to 30 minutes to marinate.

3. Place the tempura flour in a large bowl. Coat the pork belly in the flour and place on a sheet pan fitted with a cooling rack. Pour oil to the depth of 1 to 2 inches into a large heavy skillet and place over medium to low heat. When hot, gently place the pork belly in the skillet and cook until golden brown and crispy, 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Drain the pork briefly on a clean wire rack set over a sheet pan. Serve with the papaya salad.

Cook’s Note: Hand-shredding with a large sharp knife, not with a box grater, is the traditional way to prepare the papaya for this salad and will give you a crunchier texture. You can tweak the flavours in this recipe to your preference: add more palm sugar for a sweeter dish, more chiles for spicier one and so on.

Looking for even more salad recipes? These hearty salads will brighten up any winter meal.