There are just about as many versions of vatapa as there are cooks who prepare it. Just as there are many versions, vatapa can be made with a variety ingredients that can include meat, such as pork, as well as seafood. My version is somewhat lighter than the traditional ones. I’ve eliminated the dende oil, which is a palm oil and can be difficult to find, and substituted coconut milk for the more traditional coconut cream.
There’s nothing like a little wasabi to perk up ceviche. Just make sure you add it at the last minute, right before serving. You can eat the ceviche from tall glasses, or pile it on a salad of spinach, green onions, and tomatoes, topped with wasabi mayonnaise. A crusty slice of toasted garlic bread goes well with this.
The technique of soaking a food in a liquid to flavor it—or in the case of meats, to tenderize the cut—was probably brought to the Caribbean by the Spanish. A marinade is easier to use than a paste, and when grilling your jerk meats, the marinade can also be used as a basting sauce. “In Jamaica,” notes food writer Robb Walsh, “like Texas barbecue, jerk is served on butcher paper and eaten with your hands.” Serve this version of jerk with a salad and grilled plantains.