At the crossroads of Latin American and Caribbean culture, Panama’s cuisine is a both familiar yet distinctive. So too is this personal menu by Chef Rossy Earle, a reflection of her Panamanian roots planted in Canadian soil. Tonight she shares a few dishes inspired by her favourites growing up, presented with the skill and consideration of a contemporary professional chef and food stylist.
“When I feel nostalgic about Panama, these are some of the things that I like to make. The smells coming from my kitchen and the flavours make me immediately think of home.”
Welcome Cocktail & Amuse Bouche
Mojito Criollo: Panamanian rum, maracuja (passion fruit), mango & culantro, a Caribbean herb related coriander & smoked cheese empanadas.
Ensalada de Palmito
Fresh salad of tender palm hearts, with tomato, avocado & citrus vinaigrette
A hearty Panamanian stew/soup with chicken and root vegetables such as cassava, ñame (a type of yam), otoe (eddo/taro), cob corn & aromatics — a popular comfort food and hangover cure that’s traditionally cooked in a fire pit. Served with steamed white rice and picante, a homemade Caribbean-style hot sauce made from aji chombo, a Panamanian chilli pepper.
Pretty much every Latin American country has its own version of a tamal, a cornmeal dumpling that’s a comfort food staple at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Rossy’s feature a corn masa dough stuffed with chicken, vegetables, olives, capers, wrapped in banana leaves and gently steamed. Served with sofrito criollo, a classic Panamanian condiment made from sautéed onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, herbs and annatto oil, & Diablo’s Fuego, Rossy’s own hot sauce.
Flan de Caramelo
Flan is a ubiquitous in Panama as butter tarts are in Canada. Flan is a baked custard variation, similar to the creme caramel that was inherited from Spain. Uniquely, this recipe uses marañón, the fruit that bears the seed we know as cashew nut, as the base of the caramel.
Born and raised in Panama, Rossy prides herself in infusing Latin American flavours into whatever she creates, making it her goal to bring some of her roots into Canadian food culture. Currently working as a freelance chef, recipe developer and food stylist in Toronto, she also has a line of hot sauces including the smoky Diablo’s Fuego hot sauce and it’s seasonal and sweeter — but not less spicy — sister sauce Diabla’s Kiss. On Instagram at @pancancooks
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