British Virgin Islands Recipes and traditional food tends to be spicy and hearty. Many of the foods are imported due to an acquired taste for foreign foods.
Modern Influence on British Virgin Islands Food Recipes
The single largest influence on modern Virgin Islander culture, however, comes from the Africans enslaved to work in cane fields from the 17th to the mid-19th century. These African slaves brought with them traditions from across a wide swathe of Africa, including what is now Nigeria, Senegal, both Congos, Gambia and Ghana.
Virgin Islands culture continues to undergo creolization, the result of inter-Caribbean migration and cultural contact with other islands in the region, as well as the United States. Migration has altered the social landscape of both countries to the extent that in the British Virgin Islands, half of the population is of foreign (mostly Caribbean) origin and in the U.S. Virgin Islands, most native-born residents can trace their ancestry to other Caribbean islands.
Local farmers grow fruits and vegetables along with the rearing of animals. Their goods are sold in local open-air markets, while supermarkets tend to carry only imported foods. Upscale restaurants often cater to tourists, serving a combination of North American dishes with tropical twists as well as local cuisine. An example of this is the addition of mango and Caribbean spices to salmon, a non-tropical fish.
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British Virgin Islands Cuisine
Traditional food tends to be spicy and hearty. Many of the foods are imported due to an acquired taste for foreign foods. Local farmers grow fruits and vegetables along with the rearing of animals. Their goods are sold in local open-air markets, while supermarkets tend to carry only imported foods. Upscale restaurants often cater to tourists, serving a combination of North American dishes with tropical twists as well as local cuisine. An example of this is the addition of mango and Caribbean spices to salmon, a non-tropical fish. As always, my taste-buds lean toward Virgin Islands desserts.
Fungi (pronounced foon-gee) is a main staple of the traditional Virgin Islands diet. It consists of cornmeal that has been boiled and cooked to a thick consistency along with okra. Fungi is usually eaten with boiled fish or saltfish.
Callaloo (sometimes spelled kallaloo) is a soup made from callaloo bush/leaf, often substituted with spinach. It consists of various meats and okra, and is boiled to a thick stew consistency.
Because of inter-Caribbean migration, many foods from other Caribbean countries have been adopted into the Virgin Islands culinary culture. For example, a popular dish is roti, of Indo-Trinidadian origin, which consists of curried vegetables and meat wrapped in a paper-thin dough.
Fruits consumed in the Virgin Islands include: sugar apple, mango, papaya, soursop, genip, sea grapes, tamarind (can be made in a sweet stew or rolled in sweet balls), and goose berries (small green sour fruit, smaller than a grape). These fruits are mainly stewed together with sugar for a sweet snack.
“Bush tea”, a general term for any herbal tea derived from native plants (including lemongrass), is the hot beverage of choice in the Virgin Islands. Popular cold beverages include maubi, sorrel, soursop, sea moss and passion fruit. Drinks with ginger root are also popular.
Pate (Pronounced PAH-TEH), fried dough filled with various meats including beef, chicken, conch, or saltfish stuffed inside is a popular snack (similar to an empanada). Another popular snack is Johnnycake (originally known as ‘journey cake’), a pastry also made with fried dough.
FAQs About Food in Virgin Islands
1. What is the National Dish of the British Virgin Islands?
BVI’s national dish is “fish and fungi.” Okra and cornmeal are boiled with butter and then flattened into a cake and served with braised fish, which is cooked with tomatoes, onions and other traditional spices.
2. What Do People Eat in the British Virgin Islands?
Specialties. Seafood dishes, including lobster (the Anegada lobster is reputedly the best in the Caribbean), fish chowder, snapper, whelks, mussel pie, conch stew and shark. Roti (flavorful East Indian flat bread, filled with meat or vegetables).
3. What Fish Can You Eat in the BVI?
In general, to be safe, catch-and-release is advised, although tuna, mahi-mahi, kingfish and Wahoo can be considered safe to eat.
4. What Soup is Popular in the Virgin Islands?
The most famous soup in the islands is callaloo, or kallaloo, made in an infinite number of ways with a leafy green vegetable similar to spinach. It’s often flavored with any combination of the following: salt beef, pig mouth, pig tail, hot peppers, ham bone, fresh fish, crab, corned conch, okra, onions, and spices.
5. What is the Favored Rum and What Does it Taste Like?
Cruzan Aged Dark Rum is a blend of rums aged 2-4 years in charred oak casks. It is exceptionally smooth, this rum offers a dry, clean taste with vanilla overtones and a pleasant finish. It’s smooth enough to sip neat, but shines as the base for most traditional cocktails.
What Are Some Traditional Virgin Islands Food Dishes?
Fish & Fungi. Firm-fleshed fish such as red snapper or Old Wife, is boiled or pan-fried and served whole (locals says the eyes are the best part) in a Creole sauce flecked with savory green herbs. The fish sides up to a mix of cornmeal, water and butter that are cooked and hand-stirred into a side dish the consistency of creamy mashed potatoes. This duo is considered the Virgin Islands’ national dish.
Callaloo. Spinach, okra and local native greens are the base for this thick soupy stew. Conch, crab, fish, salt beef or smoked pig tail added for extra gusto. Customarily this dish is served with a heaping helping of fungi.
Conch Fritters. Besides Fish & Fungi, one flavorful sea snail is widely embraced and that would be the conch. People consider conch fritters, which are battered and fried conch balls, an island favorite. This finger food is usually served up and enjoyed with a spicy and creamy, ketchup-based sauce or creole remoulade.
Pates. Similar to Spanish empanadas, pates (pronounced pah-tays) are light fare and one of the most common foods consumed in the USVI. Visitors and locals alike enjoy these deep-fried pastries with their crispy, crunchy, doughy goodness. Pates come stuffed with ingredients such as different types of meats, conch or whelk, salt fish, scotch bonnet peppers and vegetables and spices.
Rotis. The real definition of roti is a tortilla-type flat bread. However, most folks offering roti sell it as a complete sandwich where the thin bread is wrapped around a curried meat, seafood or vegetable filling.
Pot Fish. No food group is as traditional in the islands as seafood. One popular dish of the sea that is a must-have is tasty Pot Fish. Much like how lobsters are caught in traps, pot fish are reef fish that are caught in pots.
Red Grout. No meals are complete without a dessert. One stand out dessert is Red Grout, a signature treat that is traditionally served on Transfer Day, a holiday that commemorates the transfer of the Virgin Islands from Denmark to the U.S. Don’t let the odd name fool you, though, because Red Grout is a decadent confection that blends guava, tapioca and the sweetest of other ingredients.
30 Great Virgin Islands Recipes
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1. Fish & Fungi – Food in Virgin Islands
Firm-fleshed fish such as red snapper, is boiled or pan-fried and served whole in a Creole sauce flecked with savory green herbs. Fungi is the Caribbean version of polenta, is often viewed as the unofficial dish of both the British and U.S. Virgin Islands.
2. Savory Baked Island Chicken – Virgin Islands Recipes
This recipe for savory baked island chicken is tangy and flavorsome and is so easy to make. Just prepare the marinade the day before (or up to three hours before cooking) and bake in the oven right before dinner. It has a nice combination of lovely Caribbean flavors.
3. Calaloo – Virgin Islands Food
Spinach, okra and local native greens are the base for this thick soupy stew. Conch, crab, fish, salt beef or smoked pig tail added for extra gusto. Customarily this dish is served with a heaping helping of fungi.
4. Island Style Fish (Red Snapper)
Our Island Snapper grabs flavor from a vibrant mix of vegetables. 10 minutes in the kitchen, and your family is transported to a beach-side restaurant. Serve with yuca and mojo for a complete meal.
5. Beef Pates – Food in Virgin Islands
Pates are light fare and one of the most common foods consumed in the Virgin Islands. Deep-fried pastries with their crispy, crunchy, doughy goodness. Pates come stuffed with ingredients such as different types of meats, conch or whelk, salt fish, scotch bonnet peppers and vegetables and spices.
6. Island Chicken – Virgin Islands Recipes
A very good friend of mine, from the Virgin Islands, shared her recipe with me. So I copied and pasted these directions exactly the way she sent them to me. Gotta love her!
7. Rotis – Virgin Islands Food
The real definition of roti is a tortilla-type flat bread. However, most folks offering roti sell it as a complete sandwich where the thin bread is wrapped around a curried meat, seafood or vegetable filling.
8. Virgin Island Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder
In all of the British Virgin Islands Recipes the Caribbean flavors somehow taste really great during the winter months…tropical flavors are inspiring, warming us during cold, dreary days. Slow-roasting a pork shoulder with Island flavors creates a delicious cut of meat that is tender & moist & rich with Caribbean spices.
9. Caribbean Potato Salad – Food in Virgin Islands
This incredible potato salad is creamy, luscious, tasty and chock full of vegetables. I would say this is the perfect potato salad for any summer barbecue and is great for picnics too. What makes this salad uniquely Caribbean is the addition of peas, carrots, and eggs.
10. Island Beach Chicken – Virgin Islands Recipes
Find dishes like this in any of the island beachy destinations like Jamaica, the Bahamas, Virgin Islands or Barbados. They all use a spicy, highly seasoned mojo and grill over live fire.
11. Red Grout Dessert – Virgin Islands Food
Don’t be fooled by the unusual name, %22Red Grout%22 is the signature dessert from the US Virgin Islands. This decadent tapioca and guava concoction is representative of the blend of cultures and influences throughout the history of the islands.
12. BVI Style Peas Soup – British Virgin Islands Recipes
This traditional recipe for British Virgin Islands-style peas soup is adapted from the one used by Tonya Malone-Smith, a culinary instructor at the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies and the team manager-coordinator of the BVI National Culinary Team.%0A%0ASalted pigs’ tails lend a silky collagen richness to the broth. Look for them at Caribbean markets and butcher shops, and be sure to soak them for at least 8 hours to draw out some of their salinity.
13. Caribbean Rice and Beans – Food in Virgin Islands
This dish of rice and red kidney beans is known as peas and rice throughout most of the English-speaking Caribbean, where it shows up alongside Sunday roast chicken in Barbados, richly-flavored pepperpots in St Lucia, and steamed fish in the Virgin Islands.
14. Saltfish “Run Down” – Virgin Islands Recipes
The typical saltfish and dumpling dish. A tasty stew saltfish dish in some creamy coconut milk sauce. A perfect Caribbean dinner.
15. Island-Style Conch Fritters – Virgin Islands Food
There are as many recipe variations for conch fritters as there are opinions on what they should and should not include.
16. Turn Cornmeal – Food in Virgin Islands
Turn Cornmeal is basically a savory dish of boiled cornmeal or polenta, this boiled cornmeal can be made as simple with water and salt or seasoned with herbs, spices, vegetables and even meat. Turn Cornmeal has several versions throughout Italy, Caribbean, and Africa.
17. Island Spice Beef Ribs – Virgin Islands Food
Virgin Islands food recipes is firmly anchored in Latin America and the West Indies. This recipe with a fresh herb and chili spice paste is an homage to the West Indian communities in Miami. This is a Virgin Islands style recipe.
18. Saltfish Buljol – Food in Virgin Islands
Buljol is a favorite British Virgin Islands Recipes for a morning breakfast in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. Saltfish can be found in many grocery stores, ask your grocer to help you locate it. Serve this dish with sliced hard boiled eggs or simply serve with toast.
19. Caribbean Curried Chicken – Virgin Islands Recipes
I’ve eaten my fair share of authentic curried chicken. This recipe hits the mark with big, bold flavors. It’s delicious served over rice.
20. Caribbean Pot Fish – British Virgin Islands Recipes
No food group is as traditional in the islands as seafood. One popular dish of the sea that is a must-have is tasty Pot Fish. Much like how lobsters are caught in traps, pot fish are reef fish that are caught in pots.
21. Lobster Salad – Virgin Islands Food
There really is nothing more decadent than Caribbean Lobster. Unlike it’s Atlantic cousin, our lobsters have no claws, but they are extremely succulent, naturally garlicky, with a sweet oceanic flavor. Serve this salad over a bed of locally grown baby leaves and savor the flavor of the ocean.
22. Banana Fritters – Food in Virgin Islands
If I had to pinpoint a “go-to” comfort food it would be this simple fritter. What makes it extra special is using the local bananas we grow here. They are the banana-iest bananas I’ve ever tasted.
23. Mashed Sweet Potato Stuffing
Don’t let this Virgin Islands side dish miss your dinner table this Thanksgiving. This Caribbean spin on potato stuffing uses sweet potatoes that are boiled and mashed into a smooth consistency with raisins, vegetables and seasoning.
24. Rum Cake – Virgin Islands Food
This cake is so moist and don’t let the addition of rum shy you away from it because you really cannot even taste the rum in the cake. The cake really reminds me of pound cake and so if you love pound cake then you will certainly love this cake as well.
25. Orange Colada – British Virgin Islands Recipes
The Orange Colada drink recipe is made from Cruzan Orange rum, orange juice and pina colada mix, and served blended in a chilled hurricane glass.
26. Orange Colada Family-style
I call it the best family drink for summer as it pleases all age group from elderly, young to kids. It is the BEST & EASIEST Family Drink for Summers filled with Tropical Flavors of mango, pineapple and coconut drink.
27. Coconut Tart – Virgin Islands Food
Coconut tarts use one of our staple Caribbean ingredients: the coconut. It’s a pastry with a bread type texture that we stuff with the meat of the coconut that has been stewed with sugar and some other spices. Cooking and baking are not really complete without using some part of the coconut.
28. Key Lime Pie – Food in Virgin Islands
This delicious pie is like a Caribbean vacation for your mouth. The tart key lime flavor and the smooth custard is pretty amazing. I truly believe this is the perfect key lime pie recipe.
29. Dumb Bread – British Virgin Islands Recipes
Dumb bread is a rich, round loaf that takes its name from the very clever way in which it traditionally was made. The dough, often sweetened with shredded coconut, was placed in a skillet that was set over hot coals. Then more hot coals were placed atop the skillet lid — dum-style — to cook the bread from above and below until it was toasty brown.
30. Johnny Cake – Virgin Islands Recipes
Delicious and simple, Johnny cakes are as popular in the Caribbean as French fries are in the United States. These well-loved flour based and deep fried treats often accompany traditional cuisines such as buljol, souse, BBQ chicken, pot fish, curried dishes, and a number of other island favorites.
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(1)Text Courtesy of Wikipedia