Fish tacos

We have a fantastic menu serving Belize food and other great recipes out on the island. I am the one responsible for the menu (with many suggestions incorporated from guests and staff alike), so I LOVE all of the food we serve as a result.

I can state that my favorite meal on the island, hands down, is Fish Tacos. I could eat them 3 times a week, they are that good.

The reason they are so good (besides the tortillas being freshly made and the fish being freshly caught) is the secret sauce. Charlie Woodward, one of our managers, is responsible for this gem of a recipe. And now I am going to publish it right here!

All you need is 3 ingredients: cilantro, freshly squeezed lime juice, and mayonnaise. Use 3 parts mayo to 1 part lime juice and 1 part finely chopped cilantro. Mix them together to the consistency of a salad dressing.

For fish tacos serve the taco ingredients buffet style (each person makes their own taco) with tortillas, fried fish, slivered cabbage, chopped tomato, onion, and bell peppers, grated cheese, and cooked beans. Pour the secret sauce over your taco and enjoy!

[photo by Wil Thijssen]
Long Caye Kitchen, Glovers Reef, Belize
Island kitchen, Long Caye, Belize

Our Belize island menu is extremely popular… every trip at least 3 people tell me to publish a cookbook. This just never rises to the top of the list. I think instead I’ll just put them on the blog, a few at a time. This is a VERY simple, VERY good recipe!

Serves 3 – 4

¼ cup minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T. vegetable oil
2 cups white rice
4 cups water
2 T. fresh lime juice
½ cup of chopped, fresh cilantro

Sauté onion and garlic in the oil until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until well coated with oil. Add the water and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and stir. Reduce the heat, cover, simmer without stirring for 15 – 17 minutes. While cooking make the fresh lime juice. Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice and cilantro. If you don’t like cilantro, just leave it out, it’s still fantastic.

Belizeans have a diet quite unlike ours. We are used to having the world’s cuisine at our fingertips, but Belizeans have about 7-10 dishes that they eat over and over: rice and beans, stew beans and rice (two different dishes, believe it or not), Belizean stew chicken, potato salad, cole slaw, vegetable salad (what they call a tossed salad), whole fried fish, scrambled eggs, fry jacks, Jonny Cakes, cassava bread, fried plantain, and coconut rice are their mainstays. They will eat some version of these dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. One could describe their diet this way: Comfort Food 24/7 and Belizean stew chicken tops the list.

One time a friend of mine from Dangriga came up to visit me in the big city of Belize. We planned to go out for lunch. I asked him: “Where do you want to go for lunch? My favorite is the Lebanese, want to go there?” He looked at me with scorn and replied in a heated tone: “I am not Lebanese, I am Belizean! I eat rice and beans!” So we went to the regular Belize restaurant that served all the same dishes he ate everyday.

Belizean Stew Chicken is a wonderful way to prepare chicken. Here’s the traditional recipe that we serve on the island:

belizean stew chicken

Belizean Stew Chicken Recipe

Serves 6-8

3 whole chicken, cut into pieces
juice from 3 limes
Belizean recado: spice paste sold in balls, aka red achiote paste
1-1/2 T chicken bouillion
½ can salsa casera
½ T Season All
¼ bottle BarBQ sauce
1 T garlic salt
½ T thyme
½ t black pepper
1 onion
1 green pepper
½ head garlic
1 T chopped fresh cilantro

Wash the chicken with lime juice. Skin it and put it in a big bowl. Mix enough recado with a little water just to color and add to bowl. Slice onion, chop pepper, mince cilantro, and garlic and add that and everything else to bowl. Mix well. Let sit for at least an hour. Remove chicken from bowl. Saute’ chicken in frying pan until almost done. Add onions, garlic and pepper from bowl on top of the chicken and let it finish cooking.