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Bisque de Cribiches

Contributed by: NAPSA

What's Cooking In Martinique: A Marriage Of French And Creole Cuisines

(NAPSA) - Cooking in the French Caribbean island of Martinique is an art practiced by wizardly chefs who can take something very ordinary, like spiny sea urchins, do secret things to them, and-with just a whisper of "open sesame" to the oven door-bring forth a souffle that is positively spellbinding.

Bisque de Cribiches
Martinique shows its Frenchness very noticeably through its love affair with good food. Many shops close from noon to 2:30 for the sacrosanct tradition of a copious and leisurely lunch, while dinner is often a gastronomic adventure lasting all evening. Since local people dine out as a matter of course, visitors to Martinique have one of the widest choices of restaurants in the Caribbean-more than 365, one per every day of the year. To get there, American Airlines and Air France could be good places to start researching travel information.

Hotels and better-known spots have menus in English, but many little places do not, so it is wise to bring along a French phrase book and pocket dictionary. Many dining rooms offer both French cuisine and Creole dishes, a wondrous mix of African, Indian, European and Caribbean flavors. Others serve recipes that combine the best from both kitchen traditions.

On every menu, fish is king and daily specialties vary according to the morning's catch. Typical offerings are red snapper, kingfish, sunfish, soudons (small clams), cribiches (freshwater crayfish), lambi (conch), oursin (sea urchin) and langouste (clawless Caribbean lobster). Sometimes the fish is prepared in traditional Creole fashion using piquant spices and herbs; at other times it is served in the more lightly seasoned French style, and often it is a delicious marriage of the two.

Here's an example of the kind of dishes you may find at any of Martinique's fine eateries:

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 lbs. crayfish, cleaned and shelled
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 fennel sprig (optional)
  • 1 small pepper, hot (left whole)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

Heat butter in heavy saucepan and add crayfish, onion and garlic.

Saute over medium heat until crayfish have changed color, about 5 minutes.

Add fennel, hot pepper and water.

Cover and cook at a gentle simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove and discard fennel and hot pepper.

Remove crayfish and pound in a mortar and push through a fine sieve or reduce to a puree in an electric blender with a little of the stock.

Return pureed crayfish to saucepan, add coconut milk and heat through.

Beat egg yolks with a little of the soup and stir into saucepan.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the soup is lightly thickened.

Note:

The crayfish shells may be simmered in the water first to make a more flavorful stock instead of using plain water.

Martinique's celebrated Culinary Festival is put on annually in late April or early May, the week starting Asencion Thursday, in Sainte-Marie and is a real treat to combine sightseeing and great food! Visitors to Martinique may want to pick up a complimentary copy of "Ti Gourmet," an illustrated guide with discounts in English and French to about 100 island restaurants, with details on types of food served, location, telephone number, price range, etc.

Planning A Trip

To learn more, contact the Martinique Promotion Bureau/ CMT USA located at 825 Third Avenue, 29th floor, New York, NY 10022. You can also call 212-838-7800, ext. 981 or visit www.martinique.org.

Serving Size: Makes 6 Portions


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