Even if you’re barely a gardener, like me, if you plant herbs you’ll find your patch of soil overgrown with them by midsummer. You might even think you have too many herbs. But this is a good problem to have. Got basil? Make pesto. Parsley? Chimichurri and gremolata will bring it beyond garnish status. And if you’re in the Caribbean, you’ll make green seasoning.
Green seasoning is a fresh herb mixture, one of the characteristic flavors of the cooking in Trinidad and other islands in the Eastern Caribbean. In tropical Trinidad, the herbs are grown in the village of Paramin, in the cooler climate of Trinidad’s Northern Range. These herbs reflect Trinidad’s history, with chives, thyme, and parsley coming from French settlers, and culantro (aka shado beni, bhandania, recao, and ngo gai) native to the Caribbean and Central and South America. Green seasoning is similar to sofrito from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, and epis from Haiti.
Here’s how to make green seasoning:
There are as many recipes for green seasoning as there are cooks, but here’s a basic formula for about 1 cup of seasoning. To a blender, add: ½ cup chives, ½ cup parsley leaves, ½ cup chopped culantro, 1 cup thyme leaves, and 1 small onion, chopped. Add as much garlic as you like—I usually start with 4 garlic cloves. Blend with 1 Tbsp. white vinegar and 2–4 Tbsp. water, depending on the desired consistency. I like mine coarse and the consistency of pesto, but it can also be blended smooth and loosened up with more vinegar and/or water to be pourable like hot sauce.
You can use green seasoning in endless ways. In Trinidad and neighboring islands, it’s used to season and marinate meat and fish for stews and curries—start with a couple of tablespoons for a recipe serving four to six. It’s also delicious stirred into couscous, rice, or other cooked grains; as a marinade for tofu; whisked into olive oil to make a speedy dressing to pour over salads and roasted vegetables; or stirred into beans or soup for a burst of flavor. Use green seasoning anywhere you’d like an herbaceous, bright, and garlicky punch of flavor.
A batch of green seasoning can be refrigerated for up to five days, but for longer use, freeze it in ice cube trays, then store your green seasoning cubes in freezer bags.
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