One of those must-try tastes for visitors to the twin-island republic, bake and shark is very popular street food in Trinidad and Tobago. For locals, a week without eating bake and shark would just seem unnatural. And no, it's not "bacon shark," as some visitors believe when they first hear the name spoken aloud.
The "Bake" Part
Bake refers to a fried dough made of all-purpose flour, baking powder, a pinch of salt and a little grease—preferably butter—brought together with water. The dough is rested, then divided into 3-inch balls, rolled into flat discs, and fried until they puff up. The inside of the bake is hollow so it's the perfect receptacle for stuffing. Think of it like a Trinidadian version of a pita.
The "Shark" Part
Shark is...well, shark, but not the huge ones we see in movies and on television. These are much smaller. They're skinned, deboned and sold already filleted. The shark is seasoned with green seasoning, salt, and pepper, then it's breaded and pan-fried. Blacktip shark is traditionally used, but it's not always available. Sometimes tilapia, kingfish, skates, grouper or catfish might be substituted. In fact, if you're a bit squeamish about eating shark, you can usually request one of these variations. The best bake and sharks are made with firm white fish when the shark isn't available—but rest assured that somehow the best vendors manage to get their hands on fresh shark meat.
Bringing It All Together
The bake is cut open and the fried shark is tucked inside, making a delicious "sandwich."
How to Eat Bake and Shark
Bake and shark are considered something of a blank canvas, at least when the vendor hands it over to you. It's then topped with all sorts of condiments—mustard, garlic sauce, tomato ketchup, pepper sauce, chadon beni sauce (made of cilantro and recao leaves), lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and coleslaw, to name a few. These numerous "go-withs" are as traditional as the bake and shark itself. You can pick and choose your sauces, condiments, and veggies to suit your taste. Buy your bake and shark, then proceed to rows upon rows—literally—of available condiments to heap on your Trinidadian sandwich.
Where to Buy Bake and Shark
Bake and shark are sold widely throughout Trinidad and Tobago. It's street food so you can purchase it from your favorite road-side vendor, from a shop around the corner, or in established eateries. Be sure to check out the many vendors offering bake and shark if you head down to Maracas Beach—the place that made bake and shark famous. Richard's Bake and Shark is the most widely known, and legend has it that Richard invented this dish. Natalie's Bake and Shark also has an excellent reputation. Bake and shark are available at concerts, festivals, and carnivals, but first and foremost, it's the ultimate Trinidadian beach food.