Dominican Republic food is a staple in Caribbean cuisine that dates back to African, Spanish, and Taíno origins. Dominican food also influences other cultures, such as Lebanese and Middle-Eastern cuisine with staples like deep fried bulgur rolls and rice with almonds and raisins. Once a Spanish colony, the Dominican Republic is famous for island-based ingredients, such as rice, beans, fruit, and animal meat. Bouillon cubes, sofrito, whole wheat, and plantains are also common in the Caribbean, especially during lunchtime, which is the most important meal of the day. Here are some notable Dominican foods and Dominican recipes that shape the Dominican Republic culture into island-favorite cuisine.
Dominican Republic Food
Sweet and savory Dominican Republic food ranges from soups and casseroles to stews and rice-based dishes. A wide variety of seasonings and herbs are common, such as oregano, cilantro, garlic, ginger, and Dominican seasoning. It is also common to combine exotic animal meats, like cow tongue, parrot cheeks, chicken feet, and beef tripe with citrus and chilis for a spicy kick. Here’s a look at some of the most popular Dominican Republic food entrées.
Also known as the “Dominican burger,” Dominican chimichurris are a street-food staple that utilizes onions, tomatoes, shredded cabbage, and ground beef. These ingredients are prepared into a “chimi hamburger” with “salsa golf,” which is a mixture of ketchup, mayonnaise, orange juice, and Worcestershire sauce. This results in a creamy, tangy, and slightly sweet sauce that smothers over the beef patty. This is usually combined with bell peppers, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. “Pan de agua” (or “water bread”) is also a common type of bread used with chimi hamburgers. You can buy Dominican chimichurries from Dominican Republic food trucks and street vendors. They are also a staple in populated areas of the United States.
Originally from the Moca-Seybo region of Cibao, buche’ perico literally translates to “parrot’s gut,” though parrots are not often an actual part of this dish. This corn and pumpkin stew incorporates a blend of sweet and savory flavors, primarily from corn, auyama (West Indian pumpkin), smoked meat (like pork and sausage), and tomatoes. Garlic, celery, carrots, and herbs, such as parsley, and cilantro, enhance both flavor and texture. This results in a sweet and creamy soup base that contrasts with the saltiness of the pork or sausage. Cubanelle peppers are also a secret ingredient in this stew, as it adds a sweet and rich flavor to the soup base.
Guisados involve braising meat in vegetables and spices, along with citrus elements like orange or lime juice. This is one of the most popular Caribbean dishes since it’s relatively quick and inexpensive to make, with chicken being the primary meat component. You simmer the meat with ingredients like cubanelle peppers, tomato sauce, olives, oregano, celery, and red onions. Sugar is also added to bring out a slight sweetness in the dish. The resulting flavor is a rich and hearty broth with underlying salty layers from the olives and meat. The braised vegetables also supply a soft crunch for texture.
Also known as spicy beef or cow tongue, lengua picante is a spicy stewed dish within Dominican Republic food. Typical ingredients include garlic, onions, oregano, bonnet peppers, and olives. Tomatoes, carrots, tomato sauce, and bell peppers add texture. Since tongues are mostly muscle, it soaks up this spicy sauce like a sponge. You may enjoy lengua picante by itself or with white or brown rice. Pickled tongue may also add an extra layer of spice and tang. The skin of the tongue is often removed using hot water. You may also roast it in an oven.
Dominican Republic Desserts
In the Caribbean, Dominican Republic food includes desserts that vary from puddings and macaroons to cakes and fruit. Notable spices include nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. The texture is also a large component in Dominican Republic desserts, such as sweet potato chunks, shredded coconut, corn kernels, and cooked rice. The influence of the Canary Islands, which is a Western region of Spain, is clear. Here’s some insight on some popular desserts within the Dominican Republic food culture.
Dulce de Leche
Translated to “jam made of milk,” dulce de leche is one of the simplest and easiest desserts to make. Milk, sugar, and vanilla, make up this rich and creamy “milk fudge” which you can use as a sauce for other types of desserts, such as cookies, cakes, and sweet French toast. It’s typically sweeter and thicker than other Latin American-based dulce de leche recipes. In the Dominican Republic, you can either consume dulce de leche can by itself or with pineapple jam as an extra sweet pairing.
Habichuelas con dulce
Popular during the holidays, habichuelas con dulce is a traditional Lent-based dessert that typically consists of beans, coconut milk, evaporated milk, sweet potatoes, and raisins. Cloves, vanilla, and cinnamon sticks also add additional sweetness. You can mix in batata, or sweet potato cubes, for contrasting texture against the smooth pudding-like cream. Garnishes may include salted butter, milk cookies, and casabe (cassava bread). The history of habichuelas con dulce includes French and Turkish influences, though the actual origins remain a mystery.
Bizcocho Dominicano, or Dominican cake, is famous for its light texture and airy frosting, known as meringue. This dessert utilizes common cake ingredients, like flour, baking powder, and sugar, but also incorporates orange juice and grated lime peels for a tangy layer of flavor. Popular fillings include pastry cream, guava jam, pineapple jam, and dulce de leche. Since these cakes also contain both a heavy amount of fat and air, the resulting texture is moist and light, which the sugar and egg white-based meringue enhance.
Dominican Republic Beverages
Dominican Republic drinks are famous for fruit-based smoothies and juice with condensed milk, colubrina bark, and alcohol. Homemade alcoholic drinks are typically fermented with herbs, spices, and tree bark, while non-alcoholic drinks may be either shaken or blended with ice. Specialty drinks are also popular among holidays, like ponche (eggnog) and chocolate de mani (hot chocolate). Here’s a look at some of the most popular Dominican Republic beverages.
Literally translated to “die dreaming,” morir soñando is a creamsicle-like drink of orange juice, sugar, and evaporated milk. You may also add vanilla extract, lime juice, and passion fruit juice for an added layer of sweetness. You typically cook the milk at a very low temperature to prevent curdling and then shake or pour the resulting mixture over ice cubes. Morir soñando has come to be one of the most popular afternoon drinks in the Dominican Republic, due largely in part to its ease in preparation and limited ingredients.
Known to be a “fabled beverage” of the Dominican Republic, mamajuana combines rum, red wine, honey, and tree bark for a deep, rich flavor that is similar to port wine. Originally created in the 1950’s, this alcoholic drink aids in digestion, and cleansing of the liver and kidneys. Many still believe the medicinal properties of mamajuana help with health-based ailments. You can also buy these as either pre-mixed bottles or via a DIY kit. Usually, you serve mamajuana at room temperature in a shot glass.
Similar to horchata, avena is an oatmeal and milk-based beverage that is typically served warm during breakfast time. It is a mixture of milk, cloves, cinnamon sticks, brown sugar, oatmeal, and nutmeg. The recipe varies slightly depending on the region, but typically includes ginger and orange peels within the Dominican Republic. Depending on personal preference, you can put the oatmeal through a sieve or you can keep it within the drink. Evaporated and skim milk are also a common substitute for regular milk.
Dominican Food is a Caribbean Staple
Dominican Republic food is a staple of Caribbean cuisine that includes sweet, and savory flavors. Rich layers of salty and sour flavors are also common within the Dominican Republic. These influences have also been gaining traction in other parts of the world, including the United States and Middle-Eastern countries. From fermented alcohol and creamsicle drinks to airy cakes and braised meat, Dominican Republic food has shaped and defined island-based fare. It’s no wonder that the Dominican Republic is one of the most popular regions of the Carribean isles.