Caribbean green seasoning is the not-so secret ingredient in many Caribbean dishes. It is full of rich, intense flavor. It looks like pesto but has a sharper, spicier taste. It’s freaking delicious!
Green seasoning is used in so many ways. It is a great marinade (I add it to raw chicken before freezing). It’s also a must in soups, stews, veggies, beans, and more… My mom adds it to her dhal recipe and everyone loves it!
You’ll find green seasoning in almost all savory dishes in the Caribbean. But, here’s the thing… there is no hard and fast recipe for this seasoning. It’s all up to your taste preferences and what is available in your neck of the woods.
So, experiment with the ingredient combinations below and find just the right recipe for your taste buds.
Caribbean Green Seasoning: Ingredients
Culantro and garlic are the main ingredients in Caribbean green seasoning. They tend to overpower all other additions (except pepper). But, that doesn’t stop us from throwing everything and the kitchen sink into the seasoning.
Culantro is the backbone of this recipe. But, if you aren’t from the Caribbean, you probably never heard of this herb. Cilantro… sure… but culantro… unlikely!
Culantro is sometimes called Mexican coriander, long coriander, bandanya or chadon beni (pronounced shadow beni). Some markets label it as Thai parsley.
Still never heard of it?
This photo from my garden will give you an idea of how the herb looks (ignore the weeds!).
Culantro is mistakenly called cilantro or coriander. But it is not. Look at its leaves; they are long, straight and have jagged edges; unlike cilantro’s. Here’s a great article that explains the difference.
I wish I had a smell app so you could get an idea of how sharp and strong culantro smells. It’s herbaceous and smells like cilantro… but ten times better!
If you can’t get your hands on culantro; use cilantro (or coriander) as a substitute. It is weaker and milder; but will do the trick…
Cilantro looks like this:
I use an entire bulb of garlic to make my seasoning. Sometimes if the cloves are too small, I may add a couple larger cloves from another bulb. But one bulb is usually enough.
I love chives. They have such a nice, mild, oniony flavor; but the flavor almost disappears when culantro is involved.
5. Mexican Mint
This is another star. We call it Spanish thyme; others say Indian borage, Cuban oregano, podina, and broad leaf thyme.
It has this wonderful oregano, thyme-like smell and flavor. It’s so good!
Side note: this plant is a survivor! It barely needs water or tlc to survive and thrive. So, if you can get your hands on this plant, you won’t regret it … or kill it…
Speaking of thyme… its fine leaves are a great option to add to your Caribbean green seasoning.
If you use cilantro instead of culantro in your seasoning, parsley will boost its sharpness and flavor.
Onions add a pungent flavor. But, they cause the seasoning to go bad much faster.
If you want to add in onions, you should mix in a spoonful of vinegar. The acid will preserve the seasoning.
Ginger is a very common addition to Caribbean green seasoning. It’s perfect if you love Asian flavors and cuisine.
Side note: ginger is really good for you! Here are the top 10 benefits of ginger.
10. Hot Pepper
Spicy peppers are another favorite. You can add any pepper – chili, cayenne, banana, cherry, jalapeño, habanero, and datil (I think that’s the name for pimento pepper. Correct me if I’m wrong).
You can also add pepper flakes or paprika powder.
Rosemary is rarely used in green seasoning. But I love it! Rosemary is one of the few herbs that won’t be overshadowed by culantro. The flavor always comes through!
Like rosemary, basil is not commonly used in green seasoning. Pesto… definitely! But green seasoning, not so much. Still, basil reduces the sharpness of culantro and is quite nice!
Basic Green Seasoning Recipe
My green seasoning recipe is as basic as it gets.
I use three ingredients here: culantro, garlic, and water. That’s it! Feel free to add in whatever you like from the list – ginger and pepper are must tries!
Caribbean Green Seasoning
- 100 small culantro leaves (or 50 larger leaves)
- 1 bulb garlic (peeled)
- 1/2 cup water
- Wash culantro leaves with warm water.
- Blend water and garlic.
- Add culantro leaves a little at a time and continue blending until it forms a thick paste.
- Add any other ingredients you desire.
That’s it! Three ingredients to deliciousness!
Caribbean green seasoning can be used immediately to marinate meats and season food. You can also store it in the fridge. It’ll last three to four days before it oxidizes and loses its bright green color.
You can freeze green seasoning in ice cubes too and use as needed.
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