For some reason a popular misconception about Dominicans is that the only thing we eat is rice, beans, and stewed (guisado) chicken, pork or beef. While I can’t argue that this isn’t a main staple in our food, its really not the only thing we eat. In fact, there are so many dishes that are a part of Dominican culinary culture. Our food is multicultural and influences can be traced back all the way from our Indigenous and African roots through several migrations into the DR from all over the world.
Since there’s nothing I love more than Dominican culture + historical analysis, all of these recipes are from DominicanCooking.com (but I won’t lie and say sometimes she takes a little too much creative-re: healthy-license with these recipes, I’m a purist, give me the originals unhealthy & all but alas I might be alone in that). Peep these 17 dishes by Tía Clara that will take you on a journey around all corners of our country and show you the incredible breadth and variety in Dominican cooking.
1. Kipe a.k.a quipe
No family get-together, Christmas, or birthday is complete without quipes. I personally could really do without them, and instead I always opt for pastelitos. Since I recently re-discovered my love for bulgur wheat this is on my to-make list, maybe I’ll like this version better.
WHERE TO FIND IN CABARETE: The gas station in front of Wyndham Tangerine occasionally has these for sale.
2. Locrio de salami
I don’t care what anyone says about the dubious nature of Dominican salami this is one of my all-time FAVOURITE foods. In my version I use less vegetables than Tía Clara (but keep the olives because they’re bomb). A nice fresh slice of aguacate on the side and this a plate I could eat for every meal, everyday, for the rest of my life.
WHERE TO FIND IN CABARETE: Locrio is easy to make with almost no cooking know-how. Grab this guide to Cabarete supermarkets from Cabarete Condos and see for yourself.
I feel no shame in admitting that I eat this for breakfast often with boiled green bananas (guineitos) or tostones. A squeeze of fresh lime juice cuts through the richness of the fat making it feel a lot less heavy than it sounds.
WHERE TO FIND IN CABARETE: In the callejón, in front of Calle las Flores there is a butcher. Most mornings chicharrón is made from fresh pork brought in that day in the spot next to the fruit stand a few feet down.
Okay, so this is a dessert, but I included it because I have fond memories of eating Majarete on many a cold night in New York City. My mother made it from a Goya box because ain’t nobody got time for the original method BUT Tía Clara found a way to simplify the recipe. This is one of my favourite desserts and it goes to show you that our desserts also go beyond the famous Dominican cake and flan!
WHERE TO FIND IN CABARETE: Sunday nights at the all-you-can-eat Dominican buffet at Serenade restaurant located in Villa Taina.
5. Niños Envueltos
As a kid I couldn’t stand these Middle Eastern inspired cabbage rolls. They were too spicy for me (which is not saying much since I stayed away from black pepper until adulthood because it was too spicy). As an adult its one of my favourite foods and my grandma would make it for me whenever I went to visit her in Santo Domingo before she passed.
6. Plátanos al Caldero
Plátanos are a Dominican staple. Boiled, mashed, fried, sweet or savoury, we’ll eat them all day err’day. Plátanos al caldero are a sticky, sweet side-dish: the perfect complement to a nice moro. These are my paternal Abuela’s favourite dish and we ate them everyday when I lived in Santo Domingo.
7. Pescado Frito
In her recipe Tía Clara says she associates fried fish with Boca Chica, but the best pescado frito I’ve ever eaten definitely comes from the North Coast. Tía Clara’s version is missing the thick crunchy outer layer that would make this dish more authentic and undoubtedly less healthy.
WHERE TO FIND IN CABARETE: Wilson’s Restaurant and Bar is definitely worth the trek to La Boca. A fried fish platter comes with salad, tostones, rice and beans and is under 12USD. Enjoy the view of kite pros practicing their latest tricks in Cabarete’s only flat water spot with the best pescado frito in town!
8. Arepitas de maíz
When I was a kid growing up in Washington Heights, sometimes I’d come home to find out my Mamá Chea had made arepitas and we’d be eating them with thick slices of stinky, yellow cheese that had come wrapped in newspaper in a recently arrived Tía’s suitcase.
I like my grandmother’s recipe better than Tía Clara’s but it’s pretty much a state secret so unless you come over to my house, you’ll have to settle for making them yourself.
Growing up there was little I hated more than codfish anything. I may have been more open to eating bacalao if it had come in fritter form rather than scrambled with eggs though.
CABARETE FUN FACT: We have a huge Norwegian presence in Cabarete and a lot of locals affectionately call them bacalaos because of their famed love of codfish.
10. Pasteles en hoja
These are my favourite Christmas-time treats—my mother would freeze a large batch and we’d eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next few weeks. As we got older and our extended family moved further away the tradition eventually stopped.
WHERE TO FIND IN CABARETE: Luckily around the month of December, street vendors sell these all over Cabarete’s beaches, keep an eye out!
11. Chivo Guisado
The Northwest does not play around with their goat dishes. I thought I didn’t like goat before a road trip to Montecristi proved me wrong. Click the picture for the recipe if you want to make it at home, but if you’re on the island, its worth the drive.
WHERE TO FIND ON THE ISLAND: The Montecristi region is famous for its goat and is easily reachable by rental car. Nestled on the coast of the province is a small fishing village called Buen Hombre with prime kiting conditions: strong winds and flat water. Stay at locally-owned Hotel Buen Hombre and eat some goat on the drive!
The little I hated more than bacalao? Mondongo is pretty up there on that list. But I was raised in a traditional immigrant home—we weren’t allowed to get up from the table until we’d finished all of the food on our plate, even if it was a heaping mound of pig intestine. I don’t much appreciate the texture but I do have to admit the broth is delicious. I’ve also been told its a great cure for a hangover!
The fact that this dish has become a staple in so many Dominican homes is the reason why comments like “you don’t look Dominican” make me roll my eyes. Massive amounts of immigration have changed the literal face of the Dominican Republic, and I for one, welcome the contributions of the Dominico-Chinese, starting with this delicious one.
WHERE TO FIND IN CABARETE: For authentic Dominico-Chinese in Cabarete, look no further than one of the two Chinese restaurants in central Cabarete. One is more comedor (or buffet-style) and the other is a more formal sit down place.
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