Haitian Cuisine: Pikliz (spicy pickled vegetables) & Recipe

Pikliz is a spicy slaw called pikliz which consists of cabbage, carrot, vinegar, scotch bonnet pepper, and spices.  It is a condiment.

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See Recipe: http://www.whats4eats.com/pickles/pikliz-recipe

A Brief History of Haitian Cuisine-A True Multi-cultural Experience (by Monica Johnson)

Freshly caught fish served on a leaf.

Freshly caught fish served on a leaf.

Looking for African influences in the Caribbean? Look no further than Haiti, where most of the population is of African descent. When the first Europeans came to settle in the land of the Arawak and Taino Indians, they brought oranges, limes, mangoes, rice, and sugar cane with them, but that’s not all they brought. They also brought African slaves and left them to work the sugar cane plantations.

“How did this come about?” you may ask. Well if you recall there was a man named Christopher Columbus who had a little something to do with the history of the Americas. Remember how Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, well guess where else he landed? Quite the busy little beaver, the explorer discovered the already inhabited land and claimed it for Spain. Spain called it Santo Domingo, but Columbus named it La Isla Espanola (The Spanish Island later to be called Hispaniola).  By the year 1520, the native Indians were almost completely wiped out from the hard slave labor the Spanish imposed  upon them and the revolts of the people leading to executions by the Spaniards. Sadly the Taino’s have no tangible legacy in the form of an existing people in Haiti; therefore, Africans were shipped over to the island to work on the sugar cane plantations.

The Africans introduced okra, ackee (red and yellow fruit), pigeon peas, taro (edible root with a nutty flavor). By the year 1700, the French had taken control of Hispaniola and with the African slave labor still in place, they expanded their commerce to include coffee, cotton, and cocoa. Haiti went on to win their own independence in 1804 becoming the first African-American led republic in the New World.

Haiti, originally  named by Taino Indians for its high ground, shares  Hispaniola with their spanish-speaking neighbor, the Dominican Republic. Occupying just the western third part of the island, Haiti still remains highly influenced by the French in its language, culture, and food. French cheeses, breads, and desserts have been integrated into the Haitian lifestyle. Haiti’s cuisine is often considered French or Creole; however the Spanish, African, and French influence make for a smorgasbord of flavor and a truly historical and  multi-cultural experience.

The difference between Haitian and other Caribbean cuisine in a word: Peppery

Method of cooking: Often slow coked and wrapped in banana or plantains and leaves for several hours. An African method of cooking is still employed today, using coals and placing them in a hollowed-out area of the ground. The food is then placed atop the coals with the leaves covering it for ultimate slow cooking results.

Try this at home: In the mood for a Haitian creole specialty, click here for a recipe for Haitian griot (fried pork).

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Recipe for Haitian Griot (Fried Pork)

Picture taken by Cynthia Jones

Picture taken by Cynthia Nelson

Ingredients
½ cup chopped shallots
½ cup chopped onions
Black pepper to taste
Minced hot pepper to taste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
3 teaspoons salt
3 lbs boneless pork shoulder cut into large cubes
2 cups water
3 tablespoons oil

Method

  • Add the shallots, onions, black pepper, thyme, hot pepper, lemon and orange juice and salt to a bowl or cup and stir mix thoroughly.
  • Put the pork into a large zip plastic bag. Pour the marinade into the bag, squeeze out the excess air, close the bag and with your hand and mix the marinade and meat together. Place the bag on a plate and refrigerate. Marinate overnight or for at least 6 hours.
  • Remove the marinated pork and bring up to room temperature.
  • Pour the content of the bag – meat and marinade, along with 2 cups of water into a pressure cooker or large pot and stir to mix. If using a pressure cooker, close pressure cook for 8 – 10 minutes (time begins from the first whistle). If using a regular pot, cover, bring to a boil and cook for 45 minutes. The liquid should dry out. If it isn’t at this stage then let it continue to boil until it has or open the pressure cooker and let it boil until the liquid is gone.
  • Heat oil in pan until very hot.
  • Add pork to pan and let fry (sauté), turning a few times at 1-minute intervals until the pork is brown and the outside crusty.

Recipe by Cynthia Nelson from Staebroek News.

Griot is often served with Ti-Malace sauce, fried plaintains, Haitian accra, and rice and bean sauce.