When we decided to travel back to the American continent, I told Véra that we had to tackle the multitude of Caribbean islands, some of which will certainly be quite challenging.
Indeed, it is quite easy to find dishes for established and large countries, but it is not the same for tiny islands whose population does not exceed 100,000 in most cases.
For this first stop in the Caribbean this week, we are traveling to the Dominican Republic. This surely reminded me some distant memories… a time when Anne and I were young and still childless. We spent New Year’s Eve in Punta Cana. A week of relaxation doing nothing but sipping drinks that were way too sweet and alcoholic (of course), devouring endless buffets and swimming lengths or rather widths… especially after a few strong daiquiris…
The local Dominican foods did not leave a lasting impression on me (probably due to my excessive drinking) so I did some research to find a Dominican recipe that would be representative of the cuisine of this island. This is when I came across a blog dedicated to the fine cuisine of this beautiful country. This blog was created by “Aunt Clara“, who lives in Punta Cana.
So I stumbled upon locrio de pica pica, a dish representative of Dominican recipes. I do not know if this is the unusual name that drew me to it or the beautiful pictures that made this dish look very tasty. Or simply because I had bought quite a few cans of sardines in tomato sauce during one of my visits to the Filipino supermarkets and I really wanted to finally use them for a recipe. I only changed some proportions but I kept the basic ingredients from Clara’s recipe.
Dominican cuisine is heavily influenced by Spanish, indigenous and African cuisines and is very similar to the cuisines of neighboring islands like Cuba and Puerto Rico. This locrio recipe is actually very similar to the paella in its concept, especially as the classic version is made with chicken. Locrio is really the Dominican version of arroz con pollo which also looks like Indian biryanis.
My wife Anne, at the sight of the cans of sardines, opted to finish the leftovers from the night before! The kids and I really enjoyed this dish. I must say that we love sardines!
This recipe is validated by our Dominican culinary expert, Chef Carlos Estevez. Chef Carlos is the Caribbean Director for the Professional Gastronomic Council of the Americas, as well as the President for the Bocuse D’Or Academy of the Dominican Republic.
- 20 oz. canned sardines in tomato sauce (or in hot tomato sauce)
- 3 cups rice
- 1 red bell pepper , diced
- 1 carrot , diced
- ½ cup peas (fresh or frozen)
- 2 cloves garlic , crushed
- 1 stalk celery , diced
- A few leaves of cilantro
- Olive oil
- Open the cans of sardines and separate the sardines from sauce. In a saucepan, saute the cilantro, garlic, peppers, carrots, peas and celery in a little olive oil over low heat. Cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium and add the sardine sauce. Add half of the sardines (keep the other half for later).
- Add 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and add the rice. Stir constantly to prevent the rice from sticking. When the liquid is completely evaporated, add the remaining sardines and stir.
- Cover and cook over very low heat. After 15 minutes, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir, cover again and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
- Serve locrio of pica pica with avocado.