Belize is a small country on the east coast of Central America. This country is surrounded on the east by the Caribbean Sea. Its cuisine has been influenced, like many other countries in this region, by a mixture of the different cultures that converged in this small paradise.
First inhabited by the Mayans who provided the use of corn, beans and squash. Later the Spanish and British conflict over the area brought ingredients to the mixture such as onions, poultry, beef and certain spices. Finally, the slaves that arrived from Jamaica, Bermuda and other Colonies brought a series of techniques and wonderful Kriol Cuisine.
Panades is a delicious traditional Belizean meal that is similar to an empanada, but it is filled with fish or beans. It is usually topped with cabbage, onion and pepper salsa. This dish truly represents the influences from all the cultures that made Belizean Cuisine what it is today.
For those who wish to taste a little of Belize, the recipe goes as follows:
· 3 cups of corn flour
· ¼ cup of water
· 1 tsp baking powder
· 1 tsp of ground red recado which is achiote rojo seasoning (substitute with paprika if needed)
· 1 can of tuna
· 1 medium chopped onion
· 1 cup of cabbage
· ½ cup chopped cilantro
· 1 habanero or jalapeño diced (optional)
· Salt and pepper to taste
· 2 cups of vegetable oil
· 1 lime
· 1 tsp coconut oil
· ¼ cup of water
· ¼ cup of vinegar
· 1 tortilla press
· Plastic wrap
For the corn mixture:
Mix the dry ingredients together: Salt, baking powder ground recado or paprika and corn flower. Pour water slowly and knead to form a moist dough (add more water if necessary) but be careful not to get them too wet. Let dough sit for 10 minutes, then form into small balls.
For the stuffing:
Drain and dry the tuna. Season with salt and pepper and warm. Place corn mixture ball in between to pieces of plastic wrap and into the tortilla press to keep from sticking to the surface. Remove top plastic and the stuffing. Fold the dough into a semi-circle and press the edges to keep from spilling. Heat oil in a small pan on medium high heat. Sliede panades into oil and remove them when golden brown. Place on paper towel to drain excess oil.
For the salsa:
Chop cabbage, onion and cilantro. Mix together and add the lime juice, 1 tsp of coconut oil, vinegar, water and habanero or jalapeño pepper. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Spread salsa over panades before serving. Serve warm.
Written by Maria Jose Caniz,
LARM Centro Caribe