Add some Trinidadian spice to your life.
I was not familiar with Trinidadian — or Trini — food before talking to professional ballet dancer (and fabulous home cook) Nardia Boodoo. Better late than never. This Trini Green Seasoning recipe is delicious, fresh, and just the right amount of spicy.
The Washington Ballet company member started cooking as a little girl, starting with simple things like instant ramen and eggs. Her father, a professional chef, graduated her to more advanced dishes. These days, Nardia makes everything from braised short ribs to eight-hour Italian ragù. And yet, her Trini roots are never far from her thoughts, or kitchen.
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In interviewing Nardia for her recent Unpeeled profile, she talked about her family’s green seasoning recipe. Green seasoning is ubiquitous in Trinidad. “Everything you make in Trinidad gets touched with that,” says Nardia. It is a condiment, a sauce, a marinade, and Trini food’s all-around best bud.
This most special family recipe has been passed down from Nardia’s great-grandmom to her grandmom to her father and then to her. And now to us. Truly a big honor.
Green seasoning deserves to be your food’s best bud, too. Made from a blend of incredibly fresh flavors — lime, ginger, celery, green pepper, scallions, hot pepper, and more — green seasoning makes everything taste good. I could probably eat it straight from a bowl like a spicy green gazpacho.
A Few Notes: Trini Green Seasoning Recipe
- This recipe makes a big batch, but can easily be halved. I used it as a marinade for chicken thighs, which I then charbroiled in the oven, then covered with more green seasoning. Nardia also recommends it for lamb, shrimp, and fish.
- The recipe calls for a whole habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper. Those peppers bring some serious heat, so feel free to use as much or as little as you like.
- If you are having trouble blending the sauce, loosen it with a bit more vinegar or lime juice.
Nardia's Trini Green Seasoning
- 1 small onion or 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 1 head of garlic, peeled into cloves
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped (preferably the tops, including leaves)
- 1 1" piece fresh ginger
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced
- 1 bunch cilantro or culantro
- 1/2 bunch fresh thyme, leaves only
- 1/2 bunch fresh oregano or Spanish thyme, leaves only
- 1 Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, from about 4 limes
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste (you may want to add closer to 2 teaspoons)
- Put the chopped celery, onion, bell pepper, ginger, garlic cloves, lime juice, and 1/8 cup of white vinegar in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the cilantro and all other ingredients. Blend, adding more vinegar as needed to loosen the sauce. Taste for seasoning. TIP: You don't have to go for the whole Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper. If you prefer steam not to come out of your ears, just add the pepper by quarters until you reach your level of spice. But if you do decide to go for it, use the whole pepper, including the seeds.
- Serve as a condiment or sauce, or use as a marinade for meat or seafood. This will keep in the fridge for several weeks, and freezes well.