Capturing Caribbean Flavor


May 08, 1991|By Charlyne Varkonyi

The Caribbean influence is more than a fad in some parts of the country -- it's become an integral part of the everyday cuisine.

In places like South Florida, where some of the Caribbean islands are closer than a trip to the Northeast, many restaurants consider ingredients like black beans and rice as much a staple as salt and pepper.

The following Fastlane Feast menu was inspired by a recent trip to Floridawhere we enjoyed some tasty black beans and yellow rice at the Aruba Cafe, a casual restaurant on the beach in Fort Lauderdale. Typically, this dish is made the old-fashioned way by soaking the dry beans overnight. But it can easily be turned into part of a quick cooking, after-work meal with packaged yellow rice and canned black beans. Since black beans are not available in every Baltimore supermarket, you can substitute red beans.

Serve the black beans and yellow rice with our Asian-inspired sesame shrimp and steam some zucchini to serve on the side.

Start your Fastlane cooking by putting the chicken broth on to boil for the rice. Then start cleaning the shrimp (the larger the shrimp, the less time it will take you to do this deed). Next comes the sauce for the shrimp. And finally, you'll cook the peppers and onions and garlic to go with the rice and steam or microwave the zucchini. There's no time for fooling around, but it can be done in 30 minutes if you are efficient.

Items you should have in your pantry include: butter or margarine, garlic, fresh ginger, white wine Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, sesame oil, sesame seeds, extra virgin olive oil, 1 can (13 3/4 ounces) chicken broth, yellow onion.

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list should include:

* 1 pound jumbo shrimp

* 2 limes

* 1 bunch fresh cilantro

* 1 package (5 ounces) yellow rice mix

* 1 yellow pepper

* 1 green or red pepper

* 1 can black beans

* 2 small zucchini

Sesame shrimp with lime cilantro butter

Makes 3 servings.

1 pound jumbo shrimp

4 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 inch grated fresh ginger

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced

splash white wine Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

sesame oil

sesame seeds

Clean and devein shrimp and put into a colander to drain. Melt butter in saucepan. Add garlic and ginger and saute until the essence of garlic is released, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add lime juice, cilantro, white wine Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and reduce over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Put cleaned shrimp in a colander and pour butter mixture over them, reserving excess butter in a bowl to serve on the side at the table.

Place shrimp on a broiling pan. Brush with sesame oil and dust with sesame seeds. Broil about 4 inches from heating element for about 5 minutes.

Black beans and yellow rice

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

1 can (13 3/4 ounces) chicken broth

1 package (5 ounces) yellow rice mix

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, minced

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 yellow pepper, minced

1/2 green or red pepper, minced

1 cup black beans drained of liquid

salt and pepper, to taste

garlic and onion powder, to taste, optional

Put chicken broth on to boil. Add rice and turn down to low, covering pot. Cook for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a frying pan. Saute onion, garlic and peppers until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain excess liquid. Add beans and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, to taste.

Mix bean mixture with yellow rice and serve.

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