Chef Mary Kay Bader is the chef behind Maya Beach Hotel Bistro, which is a two-time winner of the “Restaurant of the Year” honor from the Belize Tourism Board. FriendsEAT is currently working on a summer recipe spotlight, so we feel extremely lucky to get a recipe from an actual chef working at a restaurant in the tropical country of Belize.
At Maya Beach Bistro, the contemporary Caribbean cuisine draws from Belizean influences and sources 80 percent indigenous ingredients to create an authentic and approachable dining experience. Only a few steps away from the water, the open air, beachfront vibes at Maya Beach Bistro perfectly complement the culinary spin on tropical comfort food.
We asked Chef Bader to share a recipe that she thinks best represent the summer season. She handed us her Seafood and Coconut Chowder recipe, and she told us that, “soup or chowder may not sound like a summer meal, but this slightly spicy seafood dish is inspired by a Belizean style of cooking in coconut milk for a surprisingly light and refreshing weeknight dinner.”
How To Make Chef Mary Kay Bader’s Seafood & Coconut Chowder
Seafood & Coconut Chowder (amount per individual serving):
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. diced onion
2 tbsp. diced green bell pepper
4 – 5 raw shrimp
2 ounces raw fish (a firm fish like snapper is best), diced into 1″ cubes
1 – 2 ounce grilled conch (see ingredients below)
1+1/4 cup habanero-coconut broth (see ingredients below)
1 tbsp. chiffonade basil
1 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup cooked sweet potatoes and yams, diced
2 tbsp. plantain salsa (see ingredients below)
Grilled Conch (makes 8 servings):
1.5 lb. conch meat
2/3 cup diced white onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1 red habanero pepper, cut into large chunks
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
Habanero-Coconut Broth (makes 8 servings):
10 cups unsweetened coconut milk (or six 14-ounce cans)
1 red habanero pepper
1 tbsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Grilled Plantain Salsa (makes 8 servings):
4 yellow plantains
1 medium red onion
1 tbsp. lime juice
6 ounces diced tomato
To make Grilled Conch:
1. Clean conch, pound thin and season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat cast iron grill pan until very hot. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Brush conch with olive oil and cook on hot grill pan until grill marks appear.
4. Mix together onion, garlic, habanero, butter and lime juice.
5. Place conch onto a foil sheet, and put other ingredients on top. Cover with another piece of foil and fold to seal.
6. Bake on an oven sheet for five to seven minutes.
7. Unwrap foil package, shake onion, garlic and habanero off conch pieces and slice conch into bite size pieces. The leftover butter makes a great dip for freshly baked bread!
To make Habanero-Coconut Broth:
1. Pierce habanero with a pairing knife.
2. Place all ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
3. Simmer gently for five minutes to infuse flavors.
4. Taste for level of spiciness. If not spicy enough, leave habanero in broth while cooling; otherwise, if already spicy enough, remove habanero.
5. Cool then store in refrigerator until ready to use.
To make Grilled Plantain Salsa:
1. Remove seeds from tomatoes and dice.
2. Heat a cast iron grill pan until hot.
3. Peel plantains and cut each one lengthwise into three or four slices.
4. Brush plantain slices with olive oil and grill until they have good grill marks but aren’t burned.
5. Dice plantains when cool.
6. Dice onion and mix together with cooled plantains, tomatoes and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
To make Seafood & Coconut Chowder:
1. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan. Add garlic, onion and pepper. Briefly sauté.
2. Add seafood; stir to combine.
3. Add habanero-coconut broth and bring to a simmer on very low heat.
4. Add basil and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer an additional two to three minutes.
5. Add cooked sweet potatoes and simmer until seafood is cooked through.
6. Transfer to serving bowls and top with grilled plantain salsa.
Maya Beach Hotel Bistro is located at Maya Beach, Mile Marker 15, Placencia, Belize.
Nearby Landmarks: Maya Beach Store and Joyce and Frank’s Belize Bed and Breakfast
Phone Number: (501) 533-8040
Hours of Operation: Open daily, 7AM to 9PM