Taste of the Caribbean: Concon, The Blessedly Burnt Delicacy del Dominican Republic
Bringing home a taste of the wondrous places we’re fortunate enough to visit is surely one of the greatest, most enduring joys of travel. Prepared in your own kitchen, the aromas and flavors of choice dishes enjoyed overseas bring warm memories to life, perhaps even encouraging a return trip in the not too distant future.
If the Dominican Republic is one such destination whose culinary treasures have captured your fancy, but you’re no Hector Piña in the kitchen, then concon is one dish you’ll want to try your hand at making. Boiling water aside, no culinary feat could be easier to achieve.
Indeed, making concon is as easy as burning rice because… well…
CONCON IS, IN FACT, BURNT RICE!
How is it that a burned edible anything can be considered a “delicacy” as noted in the headline above?
#1: Scarcity – Concon is that one, thin layer of burned kernels that lines the bottom of the pot every time you cook rice. There’s never too much of it; just enough to be a nuisance for most people, requiring an overnight soaking in dish water or some hefty scraping and a Brillo pad to remove. In the D.R. (and a few other places), however, that little nuisance is prized, even above the light fluffy rice of which concon is a by-product.
I like to take out the rice and put it in another container when it’s done cooking so that I can eat the concon first!
So says my new friend Julissa, owner of El Bohio de Mama, a 100% Dominican restaurant located in South Florida. It was here with Julissa that I got a taste of the concon pictured above, bottom of the pot remnants of a seasoned yellow rice cooked with pork that was absolutely delicious on its own.
As Julissa explained to me, though, it’s more typical for concon to be made with white rice and enjoyed with some sort of sauce, or red beans. This brings me to…
#2: Taste – Down there, at the bottom of the pot, from whence concon comes from, most of the oils and seasoning employed to produce your pot of rice come to rest. They coalesce magically with the burnt kernels, the smoky essence elevating the rich flavors all the more.
I sampled the white rice concon with beans and rice as Julissa suggested and found myself in heaven! Red beans and rice has long been among my most favorite meals. The al dente element provided by the concon gave the dish a nice new dimension, with the added flavor kick only found at the bottom of the pot – super delicioso!
Believe me, concon is definitely one dish well worth burning. To make it, just cook some rice in a nice iron pot. Remove the good rice once cooked, scrape out the concon and enjoy!
Might also be fun to experiment with different seasonings to see how they add new dimensions to your concon scrapings. A little extra adobo here, some added sofrito there, and who knows what types of taste sensations you can achieve…
Or better yet, if you’re in South Florida, swing by El Bohio de Mama and check in with Julissa. Concon is just one of many traditional DomRep favorites prepared and served daily in a friendly, familial setting that will have you feeling like you’re in Santo Domingo soon after you step inside.
For updated hours of operation and more info, visit El Bohio de Mama on Facebook.