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Tobago, Trinidad

Taste of the Caribbean: Spice Up Your Thanksgiving Ham with Some Trini Chow

Taste of the Caribbean: Spice Up Your Thanksgiving Ham with Some Trini Chow
Matouk's Hot Chow from Trinidad/SBPR

Thanksgiving Day is coming up on Thursday here in the U.S., and while most everyone is gearing up for a taste of turkey, we mustn’t forget that other pink ‘n pretty meat that’s so much a part of this heartiest of holidays – ham!

In the Trinidadian household where Patrick and I were raised in St. Croix, Thanksgiving morning always meant ham. Baked, glazed and artfully pricked with cloves, Mom’s ham breakfast often outshined the turkey dinner to come.

Now that ham didn’t need any help in the flavor department, but if anyone wanted to add a bit of Trini spice to their plate, there was always some Chow on the table.

The Caribbean’s answer to the Piccalilli Sauce so revered in the UK, Chow (or Chow-Chow as it’s often affectionately called) is great with all kinds of cold cuts. As my Dad mentioned to me a few weeks ago, though, “It’s absolutely heavenly with ham.”

The Matouk’s brand pictured here is laden with chunks of mango, papaya, peppers, onions and carrots, all swimming around in a tangy mustard sauce. Popping the top and taking a whiff will clear your senses, but despite the name and inherent peppers, Matouk’s Hot Chow is not spicy at all. (For a little extra kick, you might want to try adding a little Scotch Bonnet). Really, it just adds a nice and uniquely West Indian tangy flavor… and not much else.

Matouk’s Hot Chow packs just 20 calories per two-tablespoon serving size. There’s zero fat, zero cholesterol and only two grams of sugar. On the flip side, you’ll find 200mg of sodium per-serving. This is comparable to most regular ketchup, so it’s certainly a factor of which those with blood pressure concerns will want to be weary.

Still, it’s Thanksgiving, that one super-indulgent festival of gluttony where there are no rules of good eating! I say live a little, add a couple spoonfuls of Chow-Chow to your holiday ham, and allow your taste buds to magically transport you to Trinidad & Tobago.

If you live in South Florida as I do, you can find Matouk’s Hot Chow in select Publix supermarkets (I saw it in the Plantation store on Broward Blvd. just this morning) and West Indian grocers like Bedeessee’s in Lauderhill. You can also order it online here.

Enjoy!

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  • Oh I could so relate to this.  As a trini, I too can remember at christmas time it was a must to have a bottle of chow on the table to be eaten with the christmas ham.  We use to call it Chow Chow.  

    I too also enjoy Matouks products.  Great site!!!

  • Dunori Pavalan

    I too have memories of it growing up on the breakfast table. There were also a few times we tried to make it ourselves.
    The name can be confusing for some I’m sure because chow-chow is not similar at all to mango chow, pineapple chow, etc.