Part Three: The Delicious
Oh man. After the poor selection and pasty produce in the Bahamas, I could hardly take in the bounty that was the Dominican Republic (DR). Everywhere we looked there were stands and trucks and trees laden with papayas, mangoes, avocados, guavas, chayote… There were fresh eggs, perfectly fresh chicken and pork, and locally made cheese, all at very reasonable prices, to say the least.
Restaurants were mostly informal affairs, in the downstairs of a residence, with no sign or indication that they were restaurants other than the people eating there and the delicious smells coming from them. A typical lunch consists of pollo frito (fried chicken) or cerdo asado (stewed pork), arroz and habichuelas (rice and beans), and a small cabbage salad. At one of our favorite places, a drink and sweet coffee afterwards were included. The cost? About $6 – for the two of us. I am not even kidding. We ate out as often as possible, which was nice and a huge change from the Bahamas.
The beans really rocked my world. I know that sounds crazy, but they were just that good. So good that I asked if the cook would teach me how to make them. Very graciously, she said sure and we agreed I’d return at 9 in the morning to learn.
In the morning, I stepped into what seemed like a blast furnace! The
burners were all going full blast to prepare for the day’s lunch. I was immediately drenched in sweat. The cook was not. She looked cool as a cucumber in fact. Wish I could have learned that trick! The recipe was very simple, but so, so good.
Habichuelas al la Nettie
1 lb. Pink or Pinto beans,picked over and rinsed
1 liter water
Soak beans overnight if you want. Or quick soak them. Or not – up to you. Cook beans in water until very soft, then add:
½ bunch cilantro, stems included, chopped (see note)
2 Banana peppers, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
2 cubes Dona Gallina bullion
¼ c cooking oil
½ cup tomato paste
¼ cup garlic, minced
½ T dried oregano
1 pint or so of beans (made by this recipe) from the day before. (You don’t have to add this, but it really makes them awesome! Freeze a bit from your first batch to save for the next one if you can.)
Cook this for 15 more minutes, then add:
½ T amber vinegar
½ T Sugar
½ T Salt
Cook a few more minutes, taste for seasoning. Add more of whatever is needed. (vinegar, sugar, salt) then serve alongside white rice.
Notes: If you don’t like cilantro, try using culantro – similar but not the same, doesn’t have the chemical that tastes “soapy”to some people in cilantro. Or you could sub parsley. Also, it’s optional to add two small stalks celery, diced small. One restaurant in town did,one didn’t.
So good! Let me know what you think if you make these!