The Happy Haitian-Skillet Fish, Dirty Rice & Fried Plantains

You can take the girl (me) out of the islands but you can’t take the islands out of the girl.  I met with a friend from Haiti who is also a fellow salsa dancing-foodie, for the afternoon at the market and in the kitchen.  I’ve never been to the Caribbean but the food sounded similar to Fiji and to be honest I’ve been feeling a little Fiji home sick.  So off to the market we went to buy a whole fish (heads are yummy!), plantains, a coconut (yeah!) and our culinary accoutrements.

My Happy Haitian Friend, Anderson, teaching me some Caribbean cooking techniques.

While scraping my first coconut in America (awesome!) my friend prepped the fish.  Generously rubbing it with lime juice and swimming in a blend of green pepper, green onion and garlic, it quick cooked in the skillet while our dirty Haitian rice was simmering away.  I have never had rice like this before.  An unusual grey hue and full of flavor- why? Dried mushrooms.  The dried mushrooms are reconstituted in water and the rice is cooked in the shroomy water sans fungus.  Then in goes lima beans, shredded coconut and cilantro making it super vibrant and earthy!

Scoring the fish helps it from curling in the heat of the pan and it gives you a place to put more juice.  Rub that lime in!!

Our side for this most tasty Haitian lunch was…wait for it….fried plantains.  I don’t usually do a lot of deep fried foods but these are a guilty pleasure.  I don’t feel too bad though (not at all actually) because the rest of the meal is so healthy and  light.

Frying plantains using a traditional plantain masher.

Anderson used an interesting technique which included frying the sliced plantains on both sides, smashing them, then dipping them in salted water before they get fried a second time to give them that exquisite crispness. Upon my salted water inquiry his response was that it helps it from getting too dry. Duh.

I know they’re fried but they are so delicious!!

Citrusy fish, dirty Haitian rice and beans, fried plantains and sliced avocado- I’m happy to be kicking back island style in Cleveland.

Doesn’t get more Caribbean then that.

Haitian Skillet Fish

1 1-1.5 lb whole snapper (or other hearty white fish), scored on both sides

2 limes

1 medium onion, sliced into rounds

2 garlic cloves

1/2 small green pepper, core removed and roughly chopped

2 green onions

Sea salt to taste


Add garlic, green pepper, green onions and a pinch of salt in a blender or food processor with enough water to make it blend and form a thick but slightly watery paste.  Set aside.


Slice limes in half and rub every square inch of the fish inside and out with lime juice.  Salt fish inside and out.  Place fish in a skillet (cut in half if needed to fit)  add 1/2 cup of green pepper sauce and sliced onions to the pan.  Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes then flip and cover for the remainder of the cooking for another 3-4 minutes depending on the thickness.  Add cilantro for garnish if desired.  Then put on some Caribbean tunes and dance!