Taste of the Caribbean: ‘Tis Always the Season for Green Seasoning
When meat, chicken or fish are on the menu in most of the Caribbean (when aren’t they?), it’s a good bet that the green and gooey stuff in the bottles above is being employed to add just the right amount of island spice and flavor. It’s called green seasoning, and like the fabulous condiment that is kuchela, it’s a staple of many, many Caribbean kitchens.
Green seasoning is used many different ways in Caribbean cooking, though its magical talents as a marinade are what draw most people to it. A grilled steak soaked overnight in this stuff yields an amazing spicy flavor that will put you right back in the region with one bite. I also like to use it to saute beef cubes that I sometimes add to red beans and rice.
Onion, garlic, thyme, salt, and vinegar are among the core ingredients often found in green seasoning, but different islands combine different herbs and spices in varying amounts to produce wide varieties. You can see this, to a certain extent, in the photo above. The pea-green very fine blend of the Chief Brand on the left is from Trinidad. It includes papaya, hot pepper and corn starch ingredients not found in the darker green Baron bottle from St. Lucia on the right. You can also see that the Baron brand is chunkier, with bits of celery and onion plainly visible.
I’ve read that celery is also widely used in Guyana’s green seasoning (something I hope to check out first-hand if we get to do this in 2011). Bajan friends tell me that cinnamon is sometimes thrown in the mix as well.
Basically, there are as many different ways to make green seasoning as there are islands in the Caribbean Sea. So, if you can’t get your hands on a bottle of Chief or Baron’s, you can make your very own by following simple recipes like this one from our friend, Chris, at CaribbeanPot.com. I particularly like this recipe, and all of Chris’s recipes for that matter, because he does such a great job of suggesting replacements for unique island ingredients, like shado beni, that are not easily found outside of the Caribbean. It’s a great resource for West Indians in exile, like me, as well as those keen on bringing a taste of the Caribbean to wherever they call home.