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WEB EXCLUSIVE Like in any community, food is an extremely significant part of African American culture. But while soul food may be the one thing that comes to mind, there’s way more to Black cuisine than just that (though soul food is certainly an important aspect of Black heritage), and chef-owner Ricky Moore of Saltbox Seafood Joint proves it.
In honor of African Heritage Month, Moore will be featuring a special dish that originated and was influenced by Black culture every Wednesday in February—specifically foods that speak to the global African influence on food culture in the Americas and not just the United States.
“I chose dishes that I’ve eaten in the regions where they originated and experienced them prepared by someone’s native hands and that I’ve also made myself,” Moore says. “I’ve chosen seafood dishes specifically—Saltbox Seafood Joint celebrates the fish and seafood of the North Carolina coast, so I wanted to stay within those boundaries.”
The dinner series allows Moore to preserve these dishes that are so important and meaningful to him while educating the community on Black cuisine and introducing them to delicious cuisine throughout the month.
Yesterday, Moore’s featured dish was fried catfish and spaghetti, an unlikely soul food combination that originated in the Mississippi Delta and is now mostly predominant in the Deep South and Midwest.
Moore discovered the dish while he was living in Chicago; his take involves flavoring the spaghetti with similar ingredients to those found in dirty rice, using the “holy trinity” aromatic base of onion, green pepper and celery. Moore also notes that, traditionally, the spaghetti is overcooked, but his is cooked properly—of course.
On Feb. 10, Moore will feature bake and shark, a popular Trinidadian pocket sandwich commonly found at beach shacks and street stalls. Moore’s will be stuffed with local North Carolina smooth dog shark or dogfish, lettuce, tomato, slices of starred pineapple, a spicy cilantro cilantro sauce and tangy tamarind.
Haitian legumes and shellfish, a stew-like dish made with braised vegetables and shellfish, will be available on Feb. 17. Moore will incorporate a variety of local seafood into the dish, including crab, local clams, whitefish bones, shrimp and other local fish, and serve it on Tidewater Grain rice, an heirloom Carolina gold rice that’s produced in Eastern North Carolina
Lastly, on Feb. 24, Moqueca Baiana, an aromatic Brazilian fish stew, takes center stage. The dish is influenced by cooking habits of the African culture in Brazil and is made flavorful with garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, salt, olive oil, dendê oil (an ingredient indigenous to Africa that’s commonly used for frying and imparting a dark dark reddish color to dishes) and rich coconut.
With the announcement of each featured dish, Moore will share additional details about the history behind them on Saltbox’s social media channels (@saltboxseafoodjoint). We hope you’re hungry for some seafood this month!
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