What Is the Culinary Culture of St. Maarten?

The culinary culture in St. Martin is truly unlike any other island in the Caribbean. St. Maarten’s style of cuisine has been developed over many years and has been influenced by various cultures found all over the world such as the French, Dutch, African, Latin-American, British, East Indian, and Creole cultures. St. Martin has been considered by many as the “culinary capital of the Caribbean” because of the vast number of influences that shape the island’s gastronomic scene. The cuisine found in Saint Martin truly tells the story of the diversity of the people on the island, the sunny tropical climate, and the cheerfulness of the natives.

Food is an integral part of the culture of Sint Maarten. The island has over 400 restaurants ranging from expensive gourmet restaurants to inexpensive Lolo’s “local roadside restaurants that serve traditional and local dishes”. A wide variety of foods are commonly found on the island such as fresh seafood, French style cuisine, Creole-style dishes, Indian cuisine, and more. St. Maarten’s cuisine is known for its intensely delicious flavors often made with creole spices, French herbs, or a modern blend of the two. Most meals are also paired with locally made rum, guavaberry liqueur, or fine French wine.

The best and most modern food in Saint Martin can be found in Grand Case “the culinary capital of Saint Martin”. Dozens of gourmet restaurants and cafes can be found there lined along “Boulevard de Grand Case” which features a variety of food from some of the over 120 different nationalities that exist on the island. The modern cuisine of Saint Martin can be described as a fusion of European and local Caribbean cuisine. In Saint Martin, you will find an artful blend of Island flavors and delicacies cooked in a traditional French manner. Some of the modern dishes of Saint Martin are listed below.

  1. Accras de Morue: A common appetizer ordered at a restaurant in Saint Martin. The dish is ground-fish, eggs, flour, vegetables, and spices that have been rolled into balls and deep-fried in oil.
  2. Bokits: A French style sandwich where a baguette is used as a base and common ingredients that go between the bread are cheese, ham, eggs, tuna, fish, or vegetables. The sandwich is then fried in a saucepan with sunflower oil.
  3. Buljawou: Pickled saltfish with plantains dusted with cinnamon.
  4. Locri: A meal made with spiced rice and chicken that is similar to risotto. The ingredients in this dish include chicken, vegetables, lime juice, tomato paste, and a dash of locally made hot sauce.
  5. Columbo: A popular meal throughout the Caribbean that can also be found in Saint Martin. It is a spicy curry meat stew with vegetables, served with white rice. The meat used in this dish is usually chicken, goat, beef, or fish.

What are the commonly used ingredients in the local dishes of Sint Maarten?

The commonly used ingredients that can be found in the dishes of Saint Martin are listed below.

  1. Fruits and vegetables: Often the produce used in many dishes in Saint Martin is locally grown. The most common fruits and vegetables used in local dishes are mangos, guavaberries, callaloo, pineapples, eggplants, potatoes, pumpkins, passionfruit, coconut, carrots, onions, celery, pigeon peas, plantains, guavas, and cassava.
  2. Spices and seasonings: The most common spices and seasonings used in the local dishes in Saint Martin are scotch bonnet peppers, curry, thyme, paprika, cloves, allspice, red pepper, black pepper, ginger, garlic, and cinnamon.
  3. Seafood: The most common seafood used in the local dishes in Saint Martin are crab, sea urchin, octopus, codfish, shrimp, crayfish, conch, lobster, saltfish, and red snapper.
  4. Meats: The most common meats that are commonly used in the local dishes in Saint Martin are chicken, pork, beef, duck, and goat.

What are the traditional dishes of Sint Maarten?

The traditional dishes of Sint Maarten are listed below.

  1. Callaloo Soup: This soup is a preferred delicacy on the French side of Saint Martin and is the national dish of French Saint Martin. It is a thick green soup made from callaloo “a spinach-like vegetable” that is grown locally on the island. The soup is also made with pork, okra, hot peppers, black pepper, chicken stock, and thyme.
  2. Conch & Dumplings: This is the national dish of Dutch Sint Maarten, made from conch (which is a sea snail) that is pressure cooked with dumplings, herbs, and spices. The mixture forms a thick sauce that is often eaten with rice, vegetables, and johnny cakes.

What are the most popular foods in Sint Maarten?

The foods that are the most known in Sint Maarten are listed below.

  1. Johnny cakes: Small slow-fried cornmeal balls served with jam or butter.
  2. Guavaberry: A locally grown plant that is used to make jam, juice, desserts, rum, and liqueur.
  3. Locri: A rice and chicken dish that is similar to risotto.
  4. Callaloo Soup: A thick spinach-like soup made with pork and seasonings.
  5. Whelk Soup: Saltwater molluscs that are stewed in coconut milk or added to a stew of vegetables and seasonings.
  6. Codfish Fritters: Saltfish that is sautéed and mixed with green pepper, chopped onion, thyme, tomato, celery, and hot sauce then blended with milk, flour, egg yolk, and then deep-fried in oil.
  7. Conch and Dumplings: a large sea snail that is seasoned with herbs and spices and pressure cooked until it is the consistency of a gravy. The conch is served with dumplings made from cornmeal.
  8. Crabmeat-Stuffed Shells: Freshly cooked blue crab meat mixed with tomato, sautéed onion, various herbs and seasonings, and Worcestershire sauce. The mixture is then placed back into the original crab shells, sprinkled with breadcrumbs, and broiled before being served.
  9. St. Maarten Spareribs: grilled spareribs tossed in spicy and savory barbecue sauce, often available at local barbecue shacks called lolos.

What cuisine is commonly cooked on special occasions in Sint Maarten?

The dishes that are often prepared on special occasions in Saint Martin are listed below.

  • Carnival: The foods commonly served during carnival are conch fritters, Johnny cakes, Conch Soup, Seafood such as red snapper, Crab back, rice and peas, grilled ribs and chicken, and whelk soup. Carnival is the most popular festival of the year in Saint Martin. It’s a three-week-long festival beginning in the middle of April and finishing on the first weekend of May. The festival has parades, bright and colorful costumes, live music, and a vast array of delicious local foods.
  • Christmas: The foods commonly served around Christmas time in Saint Martin are baked ham, turkey, macaroni pie, potato salad, rice and pigeon peas, corn pudding, conch pudding, guava tarts, coconut tarts, and pineapple upside-down cakes. Homemade guavaberry and lime punch are also served during this special occasion for many in Saint Martin.

What food festivals are in Sint Maarten?

The food festivals in Saint Martin are listed below.

  1. Les Mardis de Grand Case: Also known as Harmony Night, this festival is a street fair hosted in Grand Case, French Saint Martin where local vendors sell food and art & crafts. The festival occurs every Tuesday night from 6-10 pm from January to April. Music, art as well as many food stands line the streets and offer visitors a taste of the incredible Saint Martin traditional cuisine.
  2. Maarten Food and Wine Festival: A very popular festival that is held in Phillipsburg, during the month of November. This festival showcases Saint Martin’s top chefs and their signature dishes. Chefs from all over the island present their best dishes while visitors get to enjoy the delicious local cuisine.

Sint Maarten’s famous dishes and recipes

The culture of Saint Martin is enhanced tremendously by the local dishes and recipes which many of the natives of Saint Martin hold dearly to their hearts. The island has over 120 different nationalities which blend together and create the delightful cuisine that Saint Martin is known for throughout the Caribbean. Saint Martin’s best dishes and recipes are listed below.

  1. Conch and Dumplings
  2. Callaloo Soup
  3. Codfish Fritters
  4. Whelk Soup
  5. Crabmeat-Stuffed Shells

1. Conch and Dumplings

The ingredients needed to make conch and dumplings are listed below.

  1. 3 pounds of conch
  2. 4 cups of flour
  3. 1 clove of garlic (chopped)
  4. 1 green pepper (chopped)
  5. 1 onion (chopped)
  6. 1 teaspoon of salt
  7. 2 tablespoons of butter
  8. 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  9. Water (use as needed)

The instructions for making conch and dumplings are listed below.

  1. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, vegetable oil, and butter together. Knead the dough with your hands until you have a smooth and firm mix. Add water as needed. The dough shouldn’t stick to your hands, add more flour if it does.
  2. Separate pieces of dough and roll them into small balls or whatever shape you wish. Once you’re done, set them aside.
  3. Clean your conch with lime or lemon juice and immerse in hot water to remove the smell.
  4. Once you’ve cleaned the conch, use a rolling pin to pound it and make it more pliable.
  5. Place the conch into a pot of boiling water and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender.
  6. Once the conch is tender, cut it into smaller pieces and place them back into the pot of boiling water. Stir in the garlic, pepper, and onion and let it cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Add the pieces of dough you set aside earlier to the pot and let it cook with the conch for an additional 10 minutes or until it reaches a gravy-like consistency.
  8. Serve hot and enjoy!

2. Callaloo Soup

The ingredients needed to make callaloo soup are listed below.

  1. ½ pound of callaloo or fresh spinach
  2. 2 pounds of fresh kale
  3. 12 okra pods
  4. 2 onions (thinly sliced)
  5. ½ pound of lean pork (cubed)
  6. ¼ pound of salt pork (cut into thin strips)
  7. 1 hot pepper (thinly sliced with seeds removed)
  8. 6 cups of chicken stock
  9. 1 Tablespoon of fresh thyme (chopped)
  10.  Black pepper (to taste)

The instructions for making callaloo soup are listed below.

  1. Detach and discard all the stems from the callaloo and kale leaves.
  2. Wash the leaves thoroughly.
  3. Chop both the kale and callaloo leaves into smaller portions.
  4. Place the salt pork in a large pot and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  5. Discard most of the fat except for 2 tablespoons.
  6. Add onions and pork cubes to the pot and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the pork cubes are brown and the onions are translucent.
  7. Add the chopped kale, chopped callaloo, okra, hot pepper, fresh thyme, black pepper, and chicken stock.
  8. Cover and simmer for 2 ½ hours.
  9. Remove the salt pork before serving and enjoy!

3. Codfish Fritters

The ingredients needed to make codfish fritters are listed below.

  1. 1 ½ pound of boneless codfish
  2. 3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  3. 2 scallions (finely chopped)
  4. 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  5. 1 tablespoon of dried thyme
  6. A bunch of cilantro (rinsed and chopped)
  7. 1 habeñero pepper (finely chopped)
  8. Juice from ½ a lime
  9. 3 cups of flour
  10.  2 eggs
  11. 1 ½ teaspoon of baking powder
  12. 1 ½ cup of water
  13. 1 ½ liter of frying oil

The instructions for making codfish fritters are listed below.

  1. About 48 hours in advance place your dried codfish in a glass container and cover it with water, then place it in the refrigerator. About every 6-8 hours drain the bowl and add fresh water until the water gradually gets clearer.
  2. After 48 hours, boil the fish for about 10 minutes, drain and put it to the side to cool.
  3. Once the fish is cooled, shred it with either a fork or your fingers.
  4. Put all of the remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix until a thick batter is formed.
  5. Once the batter is mixed, set it aside and let it rest while you heat your frying oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Using two spoons, drop spoonful’s of batter into oil and fry until golden brown.
  7. Drain the excess oil on a paper towel or a paper bag and enjoy!

4. Whelk Soup

The ingredients for making whelk soup are listed below.

  1. 2 cups of whelk (removed from shells and cleaned)
  2. 1 stalk of celery (finely chopped)
  3. ½ medium sweet pepper
  4. 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  5. 2 medium-sized potatoes (diced)
  6. 1 cup of uncooked noodles
  7. 14 cups of water

The instructions for making whelk soup are listed below.

  1. Finely chop the whelk or place it in a meat grinder.
  2. Place the whelk in a pot with 6 cups of boiling water.
  3. Boil the whelk for about an hour and then drain it.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and preferred seasonings as well as an additional 8 cups of water.
  5. Let the mixture simmer for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and enjoy!

5. Crabmeat-Stuffed Shells

The ingredients for making crabmeat-stuffed shells are listed below.

  1. 12 live blue crabs or 1 pound of blue crab claw meat
  2. 1 medium-sized tomato (chopped)
  3. 1 medium-sized onion (chopped)
  4. 1 tablespoon of green onion (chopped)
  5. ½ cup of breadcrumbs
  6. 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  7. Salt and pepper to taste

The instructions for making crabmeat-stuffed shells are listed below.

  1. Boil crabs in a large pot of water for 15 minutes or until the shells turn bright red. Drain and then let cool.
  2. Once the crabs are cooled, break open the shells and carefully pick out the meat discarding any gills and intestines.
  3. Scrub the empty shells thoroughly and set them aside.
  4. Melt butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat then add onions, green onions, and tomato. Cook for 5-7 minutes until softened and then remove from heat.
  5. Stir in crabmeat, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and salt.
  6. Refill the crab shells that were put aside earlier with the crab mixture and then sprinkle breadcrumbs on top.
  7. Place the stuffed crabs on a baking sheet and brown under a broiler until golden brown and enjoy!

What are the best drinks in Sint Maarten?

While Saint Martin is known for its culinary prowess throughout the Caribbean it is also famous for the amazing alcoholic drinks that are often paired with the island’s delicious cuisine. The best drinks in Sint Maarten are listed below.

  1. Guavaberry Colada
  2. Daiquiri
  3. Planter’s punch
  4. Ti’ Punch
  5. Pina Colada
  6. Moët
  7. Jenever
  8. Cuba Libre
  9. Mojito
  10. Dark and Stormy

Which hotels in Sint Maarten have the best food?

St. Martin is an island with many excellent restaurants. Some of the most amazing restaurants on the island can be found within some of the best St. Martin hotels. The hotels with the best restaurants in St. Martin are listed below.

  1. Belmond La Samanna: Located along Baie Longue near the border of French Saint Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten, this hotel has 2 restaurants that offer a sublime fine dining experience. The restaurants at Belmond la Samanna specialize in seafood including skillfully prepared fish and succulent lobster that is prepared with a fusion of French and Caribbean spices. Many of the dishes are paired with delicious cocktails or fine French wines. Many tourists relax and enjoy their food while staring out at a lovely panoramic view of the Caribbean Sea and the pastel blue skies.
  2. Sonesta Ocean Point Resort: Located in Simpson Bay on the southern side of Sint Maarten this resort has 4 different restaurants which offer a wide range of cuisines including West Indian and Caribbean cuisine, Mediterranean cuisine, Italian cuisine, and French cuisine. Each restaurant uses fresh and seasonal ingredients in their dishes which are enhanced by each restaurant’s top selection of international wines. Each restaurant on the resort is located near the beach and has incredible views of the crystalline waters and bright blue skies. The delicious entreés can be enjoyed along with the soothing sounds of waves crashing against the shore all adding to the lovely ambiance of each restaurant.
  3. Hotel La Plantation: Located on the north Atlantic coast of St. Martin near the popular Orient Bay Beach, Hotel La Plantation has been voted one of the best hotels in the Caribbean. This hotel has 5 different restaurants that feature international gourmet experiences. The restaurants at Hotel La Plantation are known for their delicious cuisine which features an abundance of locally caught fresh seafood seasoned with a blend of French and Creole flavors. Many of the restaurants at this resort can be enjoyed poolside or beachside along with music played by a live DJ. All of these factors contribute to the fun and lively atmosphere of the restaurants.

Are there any famous chefs from Sint Maarten?

Yes, Chef Franck Mear is a world-class famous chef who lives and works on the island of Sint Maarten. Chef Franck Mear was named “The Caribbean’s Best Chef” for the year 2015. He practices his culinary arts at Le Pressoir, a restaurant located in northern French Saint Martin in the town of Grand Case, which is “the culinary capital of Saint Martin”. Chef Mear migrated from Brittany, France to Saint Martin in 1999, Chef Mear combines culinary techniques from France with the local ingredients of the French Caribbean. His excellent culinary skills can be seen not only in the delicious food he prepares but also in the incredible ambiance and service of Le Pressoir, one of the best restaurants in St. Martin.