Hello there! If you are new here, welcome to Lunes Latino (Latin Monday). I am so happy that you are here. Those that are regulars know that Lunes Latino means that I will be sharing every Monday a Latin recipe. A few weeks ago, I started a “sub-series” under Lunes Latino that is inspired on my recent trip to my home country, the Dominican Republic. In my first post of this series, I talked about the Dominican sazón (base seasoning), which is an essential part of all delicious Dominican cooking. And today…., today we are going to the beach! Yes, the beach is another important aspect of Dominican living that becomes part of the fuel that keeps you going. Put me on a Dominican beach, sunshine, white sand, crystal clear water, and I will be a happy sailor… oops, camper.
Little L takes after her mami. We went to the beach four times during our trip and she could not get enough. See below a few images of my family soaking up the sun, including our white sand Christmas picture. Apologies that I won’t be sharing all my traveling tips on this post but if you ever want to know more about the beaches I went to, feel free to leave a comment. During this trip, I went to: Juan Dolio, Las Terrenas, Playa Rincon and Cayo Arena (google them, you will see how gorg). But because I don’t want to leave you empty handed, I will share just a tad bit about two of my favorites beaches.
Let’s start with Cayo Arena. Can you see that tiny mass of land, purely made of white sand that is out there in the middle of the ocean? Well that is not a mirage, it is real, and it is paradise. Cayo Arena is not even an island, it is so tiny, that it is considered a sand bank, which is encircled by a coral reef making it perfect for snorkeling or simply seeing little bright yellow fishies swimming around you. You can only get there by boat, a few huts are available for shade and food. It is best to take of the tour packages available on the shore of Punta Rusia (where you take the boats). The tour packages include, boat ride, drinks, refreshments, lunch and snorkeling lessons.
Next on my list is Playa Rincón. Playa Rincon is a hidden gem. It is not centrally located which makes it perfect as it is not as crowded. But the reward for making it there is so worth it. As you can see behind me, the beach is surrounded by mountains which it is spectacular to see. Picture the contrast of sumptuous mountains, right next to an impressive blue sea.
Simply breathtaking. A great bonus of going to Playa Rincón, is that right on this beach is where a river ends, so you get to enjoy that marvelous scenario as well. This is part of that river which is called Caño Frio and it is covered by mangroves.
Finally my ultimate favorite experience at Playa Rincón, was….? The food! Yeap, you guessed right. Playa Rincón offers multiple culinary adventures. There are shacks that cook to order multiple fish and seafood options, there are also huts serving local drinks and there are ambulatory vendors selling treats unique to that region. In future posts I will share pictures and recipes inspired by the seafood feast we had there, as well as the best Piña Colada in the world, but today the recipe selected is: Pan de Coco (Coconut Bread).
This bread is a local treat. I had never heard of it before visiting Playa Rincón. As I was so curious about it, I started asking questions and according to the lady selling them, the Dominican Pan de Coco, from that region, is the result of blending a local ingredient (coconut) with a traditional recipe inherited in the 19th century by English-speaking migrants supposedly from British West Indies. The original recipe is called Johhny Cakes and there are countless of stories on how that recipe has evolved. I’ve actually had other versions of the Johnny Cake around the country, a very popular version is typically crunchy and salty but this Johnny Cake/Pan de Coco was so different that I decided to share it with you.
This pan de coco is more like a biscuit, not flaky but more on the caky side with a crisp outside. The coconut flavor is very, very subtle but I love how locals decided to capitalize on a natural resource like coconut to make this bread. Instead of water or animal milk, their recipe calls for coconut milk. I also added coconut flakes to the batter to help bring the coconut flavor that may not be as intense when using canned coconut milk versus pure coconut milk like the locals in Playa Rincón.
To make it, mix all the ingredients, form a dough, make individual balls and shape them with your hands into discs of at least half an inch thick.
Traditionally the discs are big, about 9 inches in diameter, but I made mine small, roughly 4 inches in diameter as I think that size works perfectly to be spread with butter an accompany a cup of coffee.
I am definitely making pan de coco again. Will you be making it too?
LET’S CHAT: Have you been to the Dominican Republic? Would you like to go? What other beaches in the world do you love? let me know!
- 4 cups all purposes flour
- 1 cup very thinly grated coconut flakes
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1¼ cup coconut milk
- Pre-Heat oven to 300 F.
- Mix flour, coconut flakes, baking powder, sugar, salt and butter in a bowl.
- With finger blend well until it’s like the consistency of bread crumb or cornmeal.
- Add coconut milk and work with your hands to make a dough.
- Do not over mix or knead.
- The dough will be somewhat sticky, use flour in your hands if needed, to form individual balls and shape into discs.
- Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.