The Florida Keys & Key West

Florida Keys Recipes

Stretching more than 100 miles into the open ocean, the Florida Keys can boast early settlers ranging from Bahamian fishermen to Cuban cigar makers and New England merchants. In such a rich melting pot, it's natural that the indigenous cuisine came to incorporate diverse and delicious influences - with a reliance on an abundant array of fish and seafood harvested from surrounding waters.

Tuna Poke

Tuna Poke

A versatile dish, Tuna Poke is great as an appetizer or light meal. Bursting with flavor, the sauce is complex, combining hot and salty with the smoothness of avocado. Other ingredients may include cured octopus, raw salmon, chopped tomato and seaweed.

Course: Appetizers, Main Dish

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound Raw, Sushi-Grade Tuna (cut into ¾ inch cubes)
  • 2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Black and white sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce (more if you like it spicier)
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 Key Limes (juiced and zested)
  • 1 Haas Avocado (diced)
  • 1 Small White Onion (chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp Scallions (chopped)

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix well.
  2. Serve this dish as soon as it is prepared, to taste the freshness of each of the ingredients.

Pickled Shrimp

Pickled Shrimp

Among Florida Keys seafood favorites are Key West pink shrimp, a delicacy generally considered sweeter than other crustaceans. Key West pinks rank among the most popular of the Keys' "natural resources."

Key West Pink Shrimp are some of the most succulent shrimp around and this dish is perfect as a hors d'oeuvre. Stored in a jar, Pickled Shrimp creates a stunning statement. If you can't find Key West Pink Shrimp, any shrimp is appropriate for this recipe.

Course: Appetizers

Servings: 8
Prep Time: 2 Hours
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Passive Time: 4 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Large Shrimp (Sized at least 16-20 to a pound; Key West pink shrimp, peeled and deveined)
  • 3 tbs Sundowners Blackening Spice (or other good blackening spice, or old bay)
  • 1 Red Onion (Large, sliced)
  • ½ Bunch Cilantro (chopped)
  • 3 Lemon (Whole; sliced into rings)
  • 1 tsp Red Chili Flakes (Crushed)
  • ½ tsp Celery Seed
  • 2 tbsp Whole Ground Mustard
  • 4 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Cloves garlic (Chopped)
  • 1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place shrimp, 1 sliced lemon, and ½ sliced onion rings, and blackening spice into a large sauté pan, and add water to cover. Place over high heat, and bring almost to a boil.
  2. Remove shrimp immediately and cool with ice and cold water, to stop the cooking process. Shrimp should be white throughout. Be careful not to overcook shrimp.
  3. Layer shrimp, onions, lemon slices, and bay leaves in a large mason jar or other large container.
  4. Add red chili flakes, whole ground mustard, bay leaves, cilantro, celery seed and garlic to layered shrimp container.
  5. Pour oil and vinegar over shrimp, leaving a small space in the top of the Mason jar for mixing. Add more oil if necessary.
  6. Shake jar well, and place into refrigerator. Refrigerate for 4 hours, minimum, and up to 2 days, turning container at least twice daily to ensure mixture stays well mixed.
  7. Drain, serve chilled, and enjoy!

Onion-Encrusted Yellowtail with Mango Salsa

Onion-Encrusted Yellowtail with Mango Salsa

Yellowtail snapper, hog snapper, mutton snapper, grouper and dolphin or mahi-mahi are just a few of the Keys' scale fish preferred by chefs. At restaurants throughout the island chain, diners can find sautéed yellowtail or snapper with a variety of sauces and accompaniments.

Yellowtail is a Florida favorite. For this recipe's crispy crust, Chef Bobby Stoky fries up homemade onion rings and uses Panko bread crumbs. These crumbs are from bread without crust and soak up less oil in the cooking process. The result? A far crispier, lighter crust. The Key limes and mango give this dish a tropical feel.

Course: Main Dish

Servings: 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes

Ingredients

Key Lime Butter (prepare in advance)

  • 6 Key Limes (juiced)
  • 1 Stick of Butter
  • ¼ Cup Dry White Wine (good quality)

Main Dish

  • 4 Filets Yellowtail or Snapper Filets (6-8 ounces each filet)
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion (sliced thin for onion rings)
  • ½ Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1.5 Cups Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Sundowners Blackening Spice (or other good blackening spice)
  • 2 Eggs (beaten)
  • Vegetable Oil (for frying)

Mango Salsa

  • 1 ripe Mango (diced)
  • 1 Green Pepper (diced)
  • 1 small Jalapeño Pepper (deseeded and chopped)
  • 1 Tomato (diced)
  • ½ Red Onion (diced)
  • 4 Key Limes (juiced)
  • 2 Tbsp Cilantro (chopped)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

Key Lime Butter (prepare in advance)

  1. Melt butter over medium heat, add dry white wine, and key lime juice.
  2. Remove from heat and let rest at room temperature

Main Dish

  1. In a large, deep sauté pan or fryer, preheat enough vegetable oil to cover onions. Heat oil to approximately 350°. In a medium bowl place 1 cup flour and blackening spice. Toss sliced onions in flour mixture and lightly shake off any excess flour. Place dusted onion rings into hot oil, and fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until dark brown. Remove onions from the oil, and place on paper towels.
  2. Allow onion rings to cool to room temperature, then using a kitchen knife or a food processor, chop onion rings until they are about the size of the panko bread crumbs. Place them into a medium bowl with panko crumbs, and mix well.
  3. Dredge filets through remaining flour, then through the beaten eggs, and then press the filets into the onion/bread crumb mixture.
  4. Preheat oven to 350F. Place a large sauté pan on the stove and add enough oil to just coat the bottom of the pan. Make sure oil is hot! Place battered filets into the sauté pan and sauté over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes per side, or until onion crust is lightly browned. Remove filets from pan and place onto an oven-proof dish. Place dish into preheated oven and cook until filets are white throughout, approx. 4-5 minutes. Remove filets from oven.
  5. Top with Key Lime Butter and Mango Salsa, and enjoy!

Mango Salsa

  1. Place chopped fruits, vegetables and herbs into a medium sized bowl. Add jalapeño, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Lobster Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Avocado Cream

Lobster Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Avocado Cream

Lobsters found in the Keys are clawless. Known as spiny lobster, they offer sweet and tender meat.

When you think of tacos, you think of Mexico but Chef Bobby Stoky's Florida Keys' version takes tacos to a whole new level. Crunchy, creamy and tart, this taco is loaded with lobster. You can't get much better than this!

Course: Main Dish

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 4-6 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Florida Lobster Tails (6-8 ounces each; remove meat and cut into chunks)
  • 8 Tortillas (6-inch tortillas; corn or flour)
  • 1-2 Jalapeño Pepper (diced)
  • ¼ Bunch Cilantro
  • 1 Avocado (smashed)
  • 3 Tbsp Sour Cream
  • 3 Key Limes (juiced)
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Cups Flour (all purpose)
  • 1 Cup Water (ice cold)
  • 2-3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Oil for Frying (vegetable or corn)

Instructions

  1. Prepare avocado cream by mixing avocado, sour cream, and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Mix well, until cream is smooth. Refrigerate.
  2. Toss white cabbage with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, remaining lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Cabbage slaw should be coated with oil and vinegar, but not "watery."
  3. Heat oil for frying. Oil should be approximately 350 degrees.
  4. Prepare tempura batter by mixing 1 cup flour and 1 cup ice cold water, mix well, but do not over beat. Add 1 egg to batter and mix again. Dredge lobster chunks in remaining flour, then into tempura batter. Carefully place battered lobster chunks into frying oil. Fry for 3-4 minutes until lobster chunks are white throughout.
  5. While lobster chunks are cooking, wrap tortillas in a clean, damp kitchen towel and steam in microwave for 20 - 30 seconds, or until warm.
  6. Remove lobster chunks from fryer and drain on paper towels.
  7. Fill warmed tortillas with cabbage slaw, lobster chunks, avocado cream, picked jalapeno rings, and fresh cilantro.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Key Lime Strawberry Trifle

Key Lime Strawberry Trifle

There are no commercial Key lime groves in the Florida Keys today, but Key Largo boasted a large Key lime industry until about the mid 1930s. Restaurants throughout the Florida Keys and Key West continue to use Key limes and their juice to enhance seafood dishes and sauces, as well as in pies and desserts.

Chef Bobby Stoky takes trifle, a long-time English favorite, to a whole new level. His tropical trifle combines Key limes and strawberries, creating a sublime and refreshing dessert. If you can't find Key limes, any lime can be substituted.

Course: Desserts

Servings: 12 Empanadas
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

Empanada Ingredients

  • 2.5 Cups Key lime cake or pound cake (cut into cubes and toasted)
  • 1.5 Cups Whipping Cream
  • ⅓ Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Strawberries (fresh; cleaned and sliced)

Key Lime Cream Ingredients

  • 8 Oz. Cream Cheese (cut into cubes and softened)
  • 14 Oz. Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 12 Oz. Evaporated Milk
  • ⅓ Cup Key Lime Juice
  • 2 Tsp Key Lime Zest (4-5 Key Limes)

Pecan Crunch Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Graham Crackers (chopped coarse)
  • ½ Cup Pecans (chopped coarse)
  • ¼ Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
  • ½ Cup Butter (cold, cut into cubes)

Instructions

Empanada Preparation

  1. Prepare the whipped cream by mixing the whipped cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla using a hand held mixer. Place a small amount of Key lime cream into a trifle bowl close to the edge, to hold vanilla wafers up against the side of the bowl. Spoon approximately ⅓ of the crunch into the bottom of the trifle bowl. Top crunch with ⅓ of the key lime cream. Then add a layer of toasted key lime cubes. Top the Key lime cake cubes with half of the remaining Key lime cream. Then layer in strawberries and the remaining pecan crunch. Top off final layer with fresh whipped cream. Serve immediately or refrigerate for a few hours. Enjoy!

Key Lime Cream Preparation

  1. Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix until all the cream cheese is incorporated into the mixture. Cream may be a little chunky due to the cream cheese; this is OK. Refrigerate for at least an hour before use.

Pecan Crunch Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Using a food processor on pulse or a dough cutter, blend mixture until it is crumbly. Press mixture onto the bottom of an ungreased 9x9x2 pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until entire mixture is bubbly and brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Mixture should look like a giant cookie. Once cool, break into chunks.
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