When we travel I like to bring home small souvenirs with me — who doesn’t, right?! I try to find unique items that I can imagine complimenting my home for years to come…Okay, I’ll admit there have been those purchases (while a bit tipsy) that left me wondering what I was thinking. I’m not perfect. Ever since this virtual space of mine entered my life, I’ve (mostly) made better souvenir choices. Now I look for non-perishable foods that will travel well and/or items that will make beautiful photo props. It’s a win-win solution that still supports the local economies of the destinations we travel to.
From our latest trip I brought back an amazing Belizean hot sauce and a very unique bowl and spoon made from conch shells. The hot sauce (or chile sauce) is made with habaneros and some other ingredients. Besides being super spicy the flavour is very pleasant — yes, you can actually taste a melange of seasonings. The sauce has a tart smell to it and has a thick consistency. The taste is citrusy, tangy, savoury and quite spicy; but best of all is the great deep flavour that stays on your tongue afterwards. I’ve tasted many hot sauces and this is definitely in the top ten. As for the conch shell bowl and spoon, this is a really cool find that I’ve never seen before. The gentlemen we purchased it from explained that the local artisans make them to offer unique souvenirs to visitors. This too is a creative way of recycling the shells after the conch meat has been eaten.
If you want your own conch bowl and spoon you’ll most likely have to travel to a tropical location, but if you’d like a bottle of this hot sauce you only need to place an order online. I did a little research and found it on Amazon but perhaps you may get lucky and find it in a Caribbean super market near you.
The colourful dish you see before you was inspired by our visit to Ambergris Caye. If you recall I wrote about coconut rice that we ate, this is not the same but I was still inspired by it. The shrimp and pineapple was given a flavour boost by the fiery hot sauce. From beginning to end this meal was delightful; it is fresh, fruity, light, colourful, spicy, exotic and one that will definitely transport your tastebuds to a warm tropical paradise.
- 300gm or 1.5 cups brown rice*
- 1 can coconut milk (400 ml)
- 75ml or 2.5 oz water
- large pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 tbsp coconut oil (or oil of choice)
- 325 gms (11.5 oz) raw shrimp
- 225gm (7.9 oz) fresh pineapple cut into small bite-size pieces
- 60 gm (2 oz) white or brown onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 10 gm or 1-2 tbsp freshly chopped ginger (peel before chopping)
- 3 tbs Belizean habanero hot sauce (or habanero based hot sauce of choice)
- 1.5 tbsp coconut oil (or oil of choice)
- Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil in a pot, once hot add the rice and fry for 3 minutes, stir often. Gently pour in the coconut milk, water and a large pinch of fine sea salt. Mix, and leave uncovered over medium-high heat and bring to a soft boil. Once the rice boils turn the heat down to low and cover. Allow to cook until the rice is soft and the liquid has been absorbed. If all the liquid has evaporated and the rice still is hard add a bit more water until it’s cooked through — only add a little bit at a time so that the rice doesn’t become soggy.
- Once the rice is cooked we can begin putting the dish together. Mix the shrimp with 1 tbsp of the hot sauce and set aside. Heat coconut oil in a large frying pan. Once hot add the pineapple and fry until it begins to brown and not much liquid is left, then remove from pan and set aside. Next add a little bit more oil and sauté the onion until soft, then add the add the garlic and ginger and cook for 3 minute. Next add a large splash or another tablespoon of the hot sauce and stir until well combined. Now add the shrimp and allow to cook until firm and have turned pink. Stir now and then to make sure the shrimp are evenly cooked. Do not crowd the shrimp! Add the cooked pineapple back to the pan and stir to well combine. Taste and adjust the salt or hot sauce if desired. Serve the shrimp over the coconut rice and enjoy!