dominican_republic_location.gif


Republica Dominicana

It is an island located in the caribbean sea. It is well known for its famous cuisine. According to Aunt Clara's Dominican Cooking, Dominican cuisine is easy and spontaneous. As in any other part of the world, recipes are passed down from generation to generation in the kitchen of our Grandmas, Aunties and Moms. Dominican cuisine is the result of crossroads of many continents, and many countries. First, the many dishes and ingredients of the Taino Indians (native Hispaniolans) have survived and today are an important part of the rich Dominican culinary culture. Second, with the arrival of the Spaniards in 1492, many new species of animals, vegetables, fruits and grains found their way to Hispaniola. The Spaniards also introduced many foods typical of the Mediterranean cuisine and others that had been passed down to the Spaniards by the Arabs during their 700-year domination of the Iberian peninsula. Moreover, the introduction of African slaves in 1503 presented yet another new (and important) gastronomical imprint on Hispaniola. It is worth noting that the African influence is almost as strong as the Spanish influence in the Dominican culture - and the cuisine is no exception.

Dominican fare is very similar to that found in other Latin American countries, especially Cuba and Puerto Rico - the only two other Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean. Some of the dishes are almost identical and only the names change.
Dominican cuisine is simple and its preparation doesn't require, in most cases, that you do anything in advance. Some of the vernacular techniques are very common for Dominicans, but for the inexperienced cook and the ones being introduced to Dominican cuisine we are giving you a few tips.
The base of Dominican cuisine is the sofrito, which is a mixture of spices and herbs, sautéed until the flavors are set free. Typically a sofrito incorporates thyme, salt, mashed garlic, parsley, onion (finely diced), green pepper, coriander/cilantro, tomatoes, tomato paste and vinegar. Many Dominican dishes are prepared using this mixture. Sometimes, to shorten the preparation time, people blend these ingredients and keep them in the fridge for a "ready-to-use" seasoning.

In some Dominican households it is very common to cook using too much oil, however this is not how most Dominicans cook. Our recipes here contain the minimum of fat necessary for each specific dish. We have tried to maximize the great nutritional advantages of Dominican cuisine and in most recipes we did not include a fixed amount of salt. That is because we want you to adjust salt to your own liking. As with most ingredients you should feel free to adjust them to your taste.

Breakfast for Dominicans is usually a light meal; the same dishes prepared for dinner are also prepared for breakfast, especially when one needs a hearty start to the day. A typical Dominican breakfast could consist of mangú accompanied by scrambled eggs and topped with sautéed onions. A few pieces of boiled cassava or another root is a good substitute for the mangú. This can also be accompanied by a few slices of deep fried Dominican cheese (its consistency and taste similar to that of Feta cheese, but is made of cow's milk). You may also accompany it with a couple of slices of deep-fried salami. A cup of cocoa, or coffee with milk is a suitable ending to this breakfast.

La comida (lunch) is the most important meal in the Dominican Republic. The family will gather around the table to share La Bandera Dominicana (the Dominican flag), our typical lunch. This consists of a combination of rice, beans, meat (or seafood) and salad or a side dish, and when prepared correctly, it becomes a meal that includes all food groups. The fresh ingredients provide for a meal that is not only delicious but also healthy and nutritious. Accompany your lunch with a glass of ice water and end it with dessert, followed by a cup of coffee (un cafecito).


El mofongo

mofongo_art.jpg

Ingredients
Salt
4 green plantains, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pinch saffron, optional
4 cups well-flavored chicken stock
Oil for deep frying
4 thick slices bacon, or salt pork, prosciutto or cracklings
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish.

Preparation
1. Mix handful of salt into a bowl of cold water and soak plantain chunks. Combine saffron, if using, and stock in saucepan over low heat, keep warm. Bring at least 1 inch of oil to about 350 degrees in a deep skillet.
2. Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp; remove and drain. Remove plantain from water and drain, then deep fry the pieces (careful, they may spatter) until golden brown and tender. While still hot, add to food processor with bacon, garlic and some salt and pepper. You may have to work in batches. Process to consistency of mashed — not whipped — potatoes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then quickly shape into rough balls about the size of meatballs.
3. Place in soup bowls, douse with broth, garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.
from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/01/dining/011mrex.html