This dish is nowhere near as complex as our seafood pasta or Pad Thai recipes, yet while being one of the simpler dishes you can make it is at the same time, one of the tastiest. Prep time can vary from as little as 30 minutes on up depending upon how much time and input into the dish you wish to have, but will principally depend upon whether you use dried black beans or canned black beans. The rice will occupy about 30 minutes using a white grained rice and wild grain rices will require just a bit more cooking time (and more salt). I find it’s actually best with medium grain brown rice seasoned with cilantro and this recipe will reflect that.
For the beans you have a couple of options from using canned black beans to cooking up your own black beans all the way from dried black beans depending upon how much time you have, or input into the cooking process you want. However, either way it is a tremendously delicious meal from a Caribbean tradition of spices, seafood and heathy carbohydrates that is healthy and will fill you up. If you want to go with the canned beans options (which honestly works out pretty well and is something we tend to default to), we’ve been very happy with Bush’s canned black beans, but you’ll need to make some modifications to get you to “Cuban black beans”.
1 lb. black beans (thoroughly washed and sorted)
2 cans black beans with liquid
1 cup medium grain brown rice
1 large sweet onion (vidalia or similar)
1 medium green bell pepper (chopped)
1 medium red pepper (chopped)
3-6 cloves garlic (peeled and minced)
1 6 ounce can of tomato paste
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 pound shrimp
2 tablespoon fresh cilantro or coriander
1/4 teaspoon coriander seed
Soak beans in large saucepan overnight in enough water to cover the beans up to 2 inches over the top. When ready to cook, salt the water and bring to a boil. Simmer until the beans are tender, then drain 60% of the liquid. Mash up about 20% of the beans and continue heating on low. Chop up and saute your onion, green pepper, red pepper and minced garlic until tender. Stir in the tomato paste, vinegar, salt, sugar and black pepper and simmer until beans are tender and start falling apart. Total cooking time for beans with this methods will be 2-3 hours not including the overnight soak.
If you use canned beans, simply dump the beans out into a saucepan including their liquid and chop up and saute your onion, green pepper, red pepper and minced garlic until tender. Stir in the tomato paste, vinegar, salt, sugar and black pepper. Total cooking time for this method is about 15 minutes and as stated before, works quite well, but may lack the subtle sophistication that can be brought through preparing your beans from scratch.
Prepare rice as you would any rice recipe remembering that brown rice tends to take just a bit longer than white rice to cook as well as just a bit more water (2.25 cups of water per cup of rice for brown rice and 2 cups of water per cup of white rice). The difference here is add in your coriander seeds and a healthy squeeze of lime to the water and rice to allow the flavors to cook into the rice.
Shrimp should be the last item to be cooked. I like them a little spicy and prepare them with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, a pinch of salt on the shrimp and chile pepper flakes to a desired spiciness. Heat the olive oil and chile pepper flakes in a small skillet to add spiciness to your dish. Note, if you want even spicier shrimp, the longer you cook up the chile pepper flakes in the olive oil before adding the shrimp, the hotter (spicier) the oil will get before you toss in the shrimp and flash cook them just until the bluish translucency goes away. Note: Most people overcook seafood, especially shrimp and scallops. The longer you cook them, the tougher they get and flavor is lost. Also, you really should add in just a tiny bit of salt to any salt water fish or crustacean in the cooking process. Kosher salt is preferable because of the morphology of the salt flakes, no additives, and an open granular structure which will help to hold to the substrate (shrimp) a bit better while providing for a better flavor experience with less salt than one might use with traditional table salt.
Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro, serve with lime and enjoy. I also suggest matching this dish with a nice pilsner.