Belize

Beleize Flag

Unusual Fact: The waters off Belize are known to inhabit more than 400 species of subtropical fish

What do you make for a country with rather non western tastes like iguana, cows foot and many other animal parts? I didn’t know but Caribbean Foods

and Caribbean Choice did. So this week for our traveling by stove top adventure of Belize we made Belizean Rice & Beans with Fish Stew. I also made some tortillas to mop it all up with.

Firstly the stew with rice and beans. I got this recipe from here,  the recipe does not have rice in it. We bought four portions of sweetlip but you can buy any white fleshed fish. Preferably ocean fish. We cut it into 3cm cubes. I can image Belize families sitting around the table eating this. I imagine this is a family staple, like lasagne is for us.

Photo courtesy of Joel Vermillion
Photo courtesy of Joel Vermillion

The fish in the stew did fall apart a fair bit while I stirred it. I would suggest keeping a lid on the pot while cooking both the rice and the stew. I had to add some more water into my rice and beans. The stew and rice and beans both had a lot of salt in them, if I made it again that is one thing I would change. I quite enjoyed this, but there has been other dishes that I would go back and make again before this one. Angus enjoyed the rice and beans, he enjoyed the combination and how it had lots of different flavours in it. As we usually just have plain rice. He did not put one bit of the stew in his mouth!

The tortillas were wonder full and very easy to make. But the recipe makes a lot, you would need about 10 people to eat all of these tortillas. The only pressure point in this side dish is getting the tortillas into a perfect circle. I got the recipe from  this blog. They don’t take long to cook so don’t forget them.

RICE AND BEANS:
Me 7

Angus 7.5

Dad 7

Mum 6

STEW

Me 7

Angus (didn’t eat it)

Dad 8

Mum 7 (nice but not very exciting)

TORTILLAS
Me 8

Angus 8.5

Mum 8

Dad 7.5

Belizean Rice & Beans with Fish Stew

Ingredients

1/2 Lb red beans

1 can coconut milk
1/2 onion chopped
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 sweet pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 lb rice

Stew Fish

1 green pepper chopped
1 red sweet pepper chopped
1 tsp black pepper
2 fresh lemons or 1/2 cup venegar
1 onion chopped
1 tsp seasoning salt
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp thyme
1 can crushed tomato paste
Instructions

Boil the beans until soft
Add coconut milk, onion, black pepper, salt, sweet pepper, garlic powder and rice
Cook covered for approximately 1/2 hour on low fire until water is absorbed

Prepare your stew fish separately

The fish should be washed and then pre-seasoned with vinegar and or lemon juice to remove the rankness
Place pre-seasoned fish in a pot, add water, seasoning salt, onion, black pepper,green and red sweet pepper
Cover and steam fish for approximately 20 minutes
Add tomato paste and simmer for another 10 minutes
Remove from fire. Let it cool for 5 minutes. Serve hot

You may add or reduce water according to the amount of fish being prepared

TORTILLAS

Ingredients

3 Cups Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Butter or Shortening
1 1/3 Cup Warm Milk, Warm Water or Warm Coconut Milk

Method

Mix the dry ingredients together with the butter until the dough is consistently crumbly. Slowly add 1 1/3 cup warm water (warm milk or warm coconut milk) while continuing to mix by hand. The end dough consistency should be soft, not-sticky dough that is ready to knead. Tip: Different types of flour need different types of liquid. Knead the dough for 5 minutes. After kneading, shape the dough into small round balls and allow to rest to 15-30 minutes. Now comes the hard part. We’ll suggest a couple short cuts below but a word of warning: forming tortillas is an art form. Ms. Z had her style, but more commonly in Belize, tortilla makers will press out a perfect circle of dough on a table using nothing but perfectly trained finger tips tapping round and round the dough to push out a circle. It’s harder than it looks to get perfectly round tortillas. When I was in home economics class I bribed a Mayan classmate to make my tortillas. Of course she had the advantage of waking up every morning and making two dozen flour tortillas for her family. Practice makes perfect.

Short Cut: Either use tortilla press, or use a rolling pin roll out dough on a lightly greased surface. The tortillas cook quickly in the next step, so either roll out several yourself, or have a partner roll out dough while you cook.

Heat the Comal over medium heat. A comal in Belize is either cast iron, or these days it’s common to find a 1/4 inch thick slab of aluminum instead. It’s essential that the cooking surface is hot and stays consistently hot. Even heat is ideal. If the cooking surface is smoking it’s too hot. When the raw tortilla hits the surface it should start to cook immediately. With the first side down, the uncooked side of the tortillas will start to bubble.  After a few bubbles have formed flip it and cooked the other side.  When both side have cooked flip it again, then using paper towel or cloth press down on the tortilla gently. This should cause the tortillas to bubble and form a pocket. This pocket is the sign of great Belizean flour tortilla. It takes some “feel” to get a tortilla just right. Taste a few tortillas until you get one right. Tip: Press down lightly on the center of the tortilla to allow it to “bubble up” in the middle.

Rice and beans with stew and tortillas
Rice and beans with stew and tortillas
Sookie enjoyed the leftovers
Sookie enjoyed the leftovers

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If you have any recipes for future or past countries or a thought on todays recipe, then feel free to comment below or like this post.

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