The archipelago’s rising food scene—a world beyond jerk chicken and resort fare—is helmed by young Caribbean chefs such as Digby Stridiron, who uses local ingredients to riff on traditional West Indian recipes in his new St. Croix restaurant, Balter. Here, he lets us in on his current obsession.
“I was raised surrounded by local produce: I had a mango tree and a sugar apple tree in my front yard, and we grew bananas, cherries, and soursops. I didn’t discover the eggfruit until I was an adult, while shopping at a farmers’ market. My philosophy is to combine local foods with high-level techniques—and to find new ways to use unusual fruits—so I was immediately fascinated.
“Eggfruit is weird looking and quite chalky when raw. Yet it has these wonderful floral notes that are so bright—it almost tastes like mango or papaya—and an avocado-like texture. I try to cook with history in mind, and the more I researched the eggfruit, the more I realized that it has been used in West Indian cuisine for years. I found traditional recipes for breads, jams, marmalades, and more.
“At first, I made desserts with the eggfruit, but I soon branched out into other, nontraditional dishes, including savory appetizers and even entrées. My favorite is our cured queen snapper ceviche featuring eggfruit tossed with local limoncitos, ginger, shallots, and caramelized hog plum juice. The acidity of the ceviche really complements the creaminess of the fruit. Next on my list: a pasta with eggfruit, chicken farce [stuffing], and eggfruit vinegar.”