Welcome to week 3 of the Five US Territories of New Recipe Tuesday. This week, we explore the US Virgin Islands, who joined the US as a territory in 1916. Unlike Puerto Rico and Guam, the USVI was purchased from Denmark via the Treaty of the Danish West Indies for $25M in gold. All of this took place prior to the US involvement with WWI, so as to protect Danish neutrality in the war.
The US Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean, and are only 40 miles east of Puerto Rico. They are the only part of the United States where cars drive on the left, which is doubly strange, as most cars in the USVI are American made.
The 3 primary islands that make up the USVI are St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. I have actually been to both St. Thomas and St. John, first when I was working in the travel industry and visited as part of a “get to know us” trip, and then later on a cruise stop. The islands are very developed compared to other islands in the Caribbean, and I loved that St. John is almost entirely a national park. It is easy to get to St. John from St. Thomas by ferry, but St. Croix is further south and can only be reached by plane. What I remember most about the USVI are the beautiful beaches and nice people.
When I went looking for a recipe to make this week, I found that the Virgin Islands are like many other Caribbean islands in their use of fresh seafood and fruit. There is also a side dish that seemed to be quite prominent called Fungi (pronounce Fun Jee) that is a sort of corn meal mush with okra.
So I decided to go with a shrimp dish that incorporated coconut, ginger and lemongrass, along with a mango salsa. And of course, the fungi.
The results were, sadly, just alright. I though the shrimp was too sweet and lacked overall balance. The fungi was not good at all; way too bland, a bit pasty and the okra added nothing to the flavor or texture. The bright star in all of this was the mango salsa, which was bright and fresh. It was well balanced and pretty much saved the whole meal from being a total fail.
Overall, I there was not a lot of love for the dishes from the US Virgin Islands. Kind of a bummer, but always an adventure none the less. I shall continue on my journey, and hope that next week’s provides for a more delicious culinary discovery.
Thanks for stopping by! See you next week in American Samoa!
Coconut Ginger Shrimp with Mango Salsa and Fungi
USVI Shrimp served with a Mango Salsa and Island Fungi
Coconut-Ginger Shrimp with Mango Salsa
- 1 green onion, chopped
- ½ red bell pepper, diced
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced
- 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
- Salt to taste
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemongrass, finely minced
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 3 Tbsp canned, unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut, finely chopped
- White pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 5 ounces frozen cut okra
- 3⁄4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Salt and pepper
For the Mango Salsa:
- Combine all ingredients. Check for salt. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
For the Coconut-Ginger Shrimp:
- Combine all ingredients except the oil and shrimp in a bowl and set aside
- Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the shrimp and cook for about 1 minute or until they are about ½ done.
- Add coconut mixture, stir to combine and cook about 2 – 3 minutes or until the shrimp are done.
For the Fungi:
- In a medium sauce pan, bring the water to a boil and add the frozen okra.
- In a separate bowl, blend 2 tbsp of the cornmeal with about 6 tbsp water. Pour into the pot with the boiling water and okra and let cook for one minute.
- Slowly pour the rest of the cornmeal into the pan, stirring constantly. Add the butter and salt and pepper, continuing to cook for 5 minutes.