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Have you heard of Floribbean cuisine?
Neither had we – until we explored the local food specialties in the Miami area.
Floribbean, we learned, is a “portmanteau”, meaning a combination of two words: Florida and Caribbean.
You may not be familiar with Floribbean cuisine, but you’ll no doubt have heard of dishes like key lime pie, conch fritters, mango salsa or jerk chicken. These are all part of Floribbean cuisine.
If you are heading to Florida, we invite you to discover Floribbean cuisine.
Savor the amazing fresh flavors and unique medaly of spices found in these top Floribbean dishes.
What is Floribbean Cuisine?
Floribbean cuisine represents cuisines that evolved in Florida, migrated to Florida, or immigrated to Florida.
The cuisine takes the elements from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, and Asia.
The roots of Floribbean cuisine can be traced back to the exploration of the New World by the Spanish.
Today, it is popular in South Florida and slowly making its way into mainstream America.
Floribbean cookery generally healthier is a fusion of Latin American, Caribbean, African, and Asian flavors and ingredients.
It is known as “New Era” cuisine, a type of American regional cuisine.
Floribbean cooking style includes the incorporation of ingredients like fish and seafood with spices, citrus, and tropical fruits.
It incorporates a diverse range of spices and fresh, local produce to create a healthier culinary experience with asian and caribbean ingredients.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: If you want to explore Floribbean flavors on your trip to Miami, consider taking a food tour. Here are our recommendations for the best The 10 Best Miami Food Tours To Taste Florida Cuisine
Top 10 Of Floribbean Cuisine
To take a culinary journey into Floribbean cooking, here are the top ten must-eat Floribbean dishes.
Local chefs prioritize fresh vegetables and ingredients with an exotic spice pantry and cooking methods incorporating Caribbean elements and influences in all these dishes.
1. Conch Fritters – Fried Shellfish Cakes
Conch fritters are a staple in Floribbean cookery. You’ll find this popular Creole-Caribbean seafood dish around the islands of the Caribbean and South Florida. It’s mainly well known in the Bahamas, where it’s a national dish of the island nation.
Conch meat is sweet and delicious. It’s typically chopped up and combined with fresh ingredients like bell peppers, onion, and celery.
Spices like cayenne are added before the conch mix is dipped in a batter of flour and eggs and deep fried.
The fritters are served as a soft patty alongside a tangy, spicy dipping sauce.
On the spectrum of Floribbean style cooking conch fritters are on the heavier side. They are nonetheless a staple of Floribbean cuisine, and we found them truly delicious.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: For a Portuguese twist to fritters, check out our cod fritters or Pataniscas recipe
2. Red Stone Crab
Red stone crab is a specialty around the Gulf Coast of South Florida, where these crabs are found in the warm waters.
This meal is consistently popular in local restaurants, where you’ll often spot it on menus.
The claw of the stone crab is the most tender and delicious meat, often served alongside a dipping sauce like mustard.
Stone crabbing around Florida is highly regulated – in fact, fishermen are only allowed to harvest one claw at a time and never both.
The crab is put back into the water, where the removed claw will regenerate.
Given that the stone crabbing industry is highly monitored, you should expect to pay more for this popular and tasty dish.
3. Blackened Grouper
Locals and Floribbean cuisine aficionados will argue over exactly which kind of grouper is the most delicious.
They typically go back and forth between either black, red, or gag grouper.
Regardless of which kind of grouper fish you have, blackened grouper is a delicious Floribbean dish typically found around Florida’s gulf coast.
Grouper cooking style varies amongst chefs and cooks. Generally, grouper is usually either grilled or blackened.
Blackening food is a Floribbean-style cooking combining subtle spices and delicious fresh seafood.
Blackened grouper is made with a rub containing milder spices like sweet paprika, onion and garlic powder, dried oregano and thyme, and cayenne pepper.
It’s often finished with a squeeze of lime.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: Enjoy Grouper at home with our simple Perfect Blackened Grouper Recipe
4. Key West Pink Shrimp
Last but not least in our list of the best Floribbean fish and seafood is Key West pink shrimp, which locals can know as “Pinks”.
On your travels to the Sunshine State, be sure to make a stop in Key West to enjoy this sweet, delectable seafood.
Pink shrimp are in plentiful supply around the area, where they flourish in the warm waters of the Gulf Coast, where it rarely freezes enough to cause disruption.
You’ll find Key West pink shrimp prepared in many ways, depending on which chef or restaurant you visit.
The cooking methods typically involve using fresh ingredients that are typical to Latin Floribbean cuisine, such as lime, coconut, and mango.
Don’t expect especially strong flavors in this dish. And the shrimp is served “as-is”, or in their shell.
Floribbean Meat Dishes
5. Mofongo – Fried Plantain and Pork Crackling
Mofongo is a staple of Floribbean food strongly influenced by Puerto Rican cuisine.
Mofongo is a hearty and filling meal also popular in Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
It is made of fried green plantains that are mashed together with garlic, oil, and salt.
In Puerto Rico, it is traditionally served with chicharrón or pork crackling.
You’ll also find Mofongo served with other proteins like chicken, shrimp, or beef. There is also a vegetarian version served with vegetables.
This particular Floribbean food is a rich blend of cultures. It has African origins coming to America with slaves who brought a dish called “foo foo” or ‘” fu fu.”
This dish combined starchy vegetables like yams and cassava into a mash with water and oil.
Mofongo is the ideal dish to sample South Florida’s diversity, as it incorporates a blend of Spanish, Cuban, Haitian, West African, Caribbean, and American culinary influences.
6. Jerk Chicken
You may not think it, but jerk chicken is a staple of Floribbean cuisine.
While Jerk chicken is most associated with Jamaica, other Caribbean islands also have their variations of jerk chicken.
For a uniquely Floribbean recipe, the chicken is typically combined with fresh ingredients like scallions and onion with spices like all-spice, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
It gets its spicy kick from jalapeño chilies or scotch bonnet peppers.
The ‘jerk’ mix is either dry-rubbed or wet-marinated into the chicken to infuse the meat with the Floribbean flavors.
Jerk chicken has a long history, first originating amongst the Taino people.
These are the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean islands of Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico at the time of European colonization.
The jerk method was subsequently popularized by slaves who adapted it, spreading its usage even further.
7. Arroz Con Pollo – Chicken With Rice
Arroz con pollo is one of the most-loved meals of Latin America. You’ll find it across the Caribbean islands, including Costa Rica, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.
Each cook and country will prepare arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) differently.
Typical features include complex medleys of spices like saffron, cumin, and coriander seeds with garlic and peppers.
The origins of arroz con pollo are difficult to trace, as several different countries and cultural groups claim the meal as their own.
It is said to have originated in Spain and is strongly influenced by paella, but Puerto Rico also claims this famous dish.
Whatever the case, arroz con pollo has spread in popularity and is a delicious staple in Floribbean cuisine.
Popular Floribbean Sides
8. Moros – Coconut Rice and Beans
No matter where you turn, you’ll find rice and beans to be a staple in Floribbean cuisine.
Different nations, chefs, restaurants, and families will prepare the meal in any number of ways, combining ingredients to make this delicious, comforting food.
In Jamaica, rice and beans are enriched with coconut milk. It’s simple and delicious and makes a great side to everything from jerk chicken or as an offset to spicy curries.
Cuba has its version of rice and beans. It’s a popular dish known as moros y cristianos, a combination of black beans and rice.
Moros y cristianos takes its name from medieval Spanish history – ‘moros’ translates to ‘Moors’, and ‘cristianos’ to Spanish Christians.
The black beans (the moros) symbolize the Moors, and the cristianos symbolize the Spanish Christians, who wrested control of southern Spain back from the Moors at this time.
Over time, moros y cristianos traveled across the Atlantic, where it remains a staple dish in many households across Latin America, the Caribbean, and Florida.
In South Florida, let the various interpretations of rice and bean dishes surprise your taste buds.
9. Mango Salsa
Salsas are said to have originated in Central and South America. It was a staple food for the Aztec, Incan, and Mayan peoples.
When Spaniards colonized Latin America in the sixteenth century, they discovered vegetables like tomatoes and mango fruits.
They also learned how to make fresh salsa, which they then imported home to Spain.
Mango salsa makes a great addition and side salad to grilled grouper, bringing bright colors and vibrant flavors to the delicate fish.
The salsa can be made in many ways, combining spicy peppers, lime juice, cilantro, red onion, and the all-important mango fruit.
Most Popular Floribbean Dessert
10. Key Lime Pie
When it comes to Floribbean desserts, the most famous is the key lime pie.
While the origins of this dessert are debatable,it is broadly agreed that key lime pie originated in Key West in Florida.
However, the key lime tree itself is native to Southeast Asia and most likely arrived in South Florida with the Spanish in the 1500s.
Key lime pie became a staple item in Floribbean cuisine around the 1930s when a lack of fresh milk and refrigeration meant that condensed milk became an essential ingredient for the dessert.
Key lime pie contains key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks.
From there, there are multiple debates over the “correct” way to make the pie.
For some, the crust is made of shortcrust pastry; for others, it’s crushed graham crackers, sugar, and butter.
Meanwhile, some key lime pie advocates prefer their key lime pie topped with meringue, whereas whipped cream is ideal for others.
READ MORE: Top 7 Most Authentic Desserts in Argentina
Floribbean cuisine evolved by incorporating culinary elements and cooking methods from different Caribbean, Asian and Latin American cultures.
This American regional cuisine is unique to South Florida due to the Latin American influences combined with Asian and Caribbean ingredients.
While we have highlighted our 10 top Floribbean dishes, there are many due to different interpretations and culinary creativity of chefs and home cooks.
Whether you’re headed to the sunshine state or any of the Caribbean islands, look for Floribbean style cooking.
You’re bound to enjoy delicious Floribbean food with unexpected flavors that combines the best local ingredients and produce with with delicious spices.
Have you had Floribbean cuisine before? Please let us know in the comments below, the Floribbean dish you are most excited to try.
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Claire is co-founder of Authentic Food Quest and a lover of simple and exquisite cuisine. Since 2015, with her partner, Rosemary, she has been traveling the world as a digital nomad, creating content about local food experiences.
Her advice from visiting 45 countries and more than 240 food cities has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post. She has also co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
An ex-mechanical engineer, Claire is responsible for SEO, keeping the website running, and the fun food & travel videos on YouTube.
When Claire is not eating, she can be found running or cycling. Find out more about Authentic Food Quest